Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tough to Put This Delicately.....

Well, I'll be honest. This one is not for kids, not for the squeamish. This one is about money. Yes, that wretched stuff we give to people in exchange for gas, whiskey, organic asparagus. That rotten root of the poisoned tree. That pathetic stepson/daughter of capitalism/statism/getting-good-stuff-ism. Yup. So close your eyes. Put on your earmuffs. Cause if this is going to offend you, then shut it down before it permeates your dreams and leaves you listless the next morning and wondering why you want a cigarette when you didn't have sex.
    Well, it is coming on the end of the year. I've sold 9,000 less copies of my book than I intended to this year. Which means I've sold about 1,000 copies. Which is not bad, but is also a signal that I have failed at my intention of getting at least 3 billion people to buy my book--a large enough number to change the world, the way we think, stave off environmental cataclysm and allow me to have a small but dangerous number of sycophants who will take care of my meager needs.
   That being said, what can be done to rectify the situation?
   I have an idea. BUY THE FREAKING BOOK!
   Buy 10 copies each. Give them to friends. Give them to people on the street. Give them to beggars who can sell them to the libraries. A lousy $30 will get you a signed copy in the US or Canada or Mexico. A lousy $35 will get you a signed copy in Europe or Asia or Australia. And shipping alone is $15 or more to those far flung but well-read places.
   Now, remember that it is Christmas and you owe a lot of people presents. You drank ayahuasca last year, three years ago. You got the message that all is one. So you stopped giving presents because since all is one, no one needs anything. THAT IS SIMPLY CHEAP! SEND THE PRESENTS! And make it my book, okay? That will square you with family and at the same time allow said family to understand what you've been dealing with--which are genuine spirits, monsters, and the bile of your life. They will forgive you. And at that price? Very very inexpensive forgiveness. Much cheaper than having to give 10 percent of your gross to your church--and my absolution is probably just as valid and valuable. So give it up. Buy the book. Write me at peterg9 at yahoo dot com and get those soul-saving orders in before it's too late. Hate to see you rushing down the sluice to hell screaming: "I'll buy the book! I didn't know he was for real!!!!"
    Don't wait for that to happen. Even if I don't believe hell is real, no one says you can't use it as a selling tool, right?
   And there is a second thought here: I have not had advertising on my blog for several years. Which means it is a labor of love. Well, so is raising children, but we all appreciate when an aunt or uncle toss us a couple of bucks to help with the Christmas presents or Pampers.
   So while I have never done this, I am now going to try just to see how it goes. More than 97,000 separate people from more than 90 countries have read some of my blog. And it was all free. How nice for you. But it still took time for me. So what if all 97,000 people tossed me three bucks each via paypal at peterg9 at yahoo dot com? That would net me about $240,000 after Paypal's cut but before taxes, which would be about 40 percent, or $90,000. Which would leave $150,000. Which would pay off my house, pay off Chepa's house, pay off my sisters' houses, and still leave $35,000 to go to the charity of your choice. See how that works? Me first, but others can be in the line too. Selfish, of course. But realistic. I only owe $29,000 on my house so yes, I'd like that paid off.
   Now, realistically, nowhere near 97,000 people are gonna send me a couple of bucks. And they shouldn't. First come their families. Then their friends. Then their charities. Then their local food bank. Then, whatever else they need to do. So I am way way way in the back of the line.
    Still, and this is not for people who have bought my book, been on trips with me, are barely surviving and only use my blog to toss their cookies because they are anorexic but need a push. This request is for those who might read the blog every week, enjoy it, and realize they're getting away with murder for nothing. Well, that's probably leaving you feeling a little sick about taking advantage of me. So I'm offering you a way out, a way to feel better about yourself. A way to stop FEELING LIKE A FREAKING MOOCH! Just send $5 or $10 bucks. This is, after all, the first fund raiser in seven years. Coincidence that it comes at Christmas when you can least afford it? No. But for you conspiratorial nuts, have at it. I prefer to think that you're all in the habit of giving $20 a week to political campaigns and now that they are over you're at a loss, you don't know where to give. So I'm giving you an option. I'm clearing your plate. I'm letting you get off the junk without going through withdrawal. See how this works? It all comes down to you sending me money via pay pal at peterg9 at yahoo dot com so that you can feel better, get weaned off the political process and take a soul-searing hot bath at the same time. You win, I win. The kids win. The local charities win. What the heck? Sounds like a winner to me.
   BUTTTTTT! You can only send money if you have enough to eat. If your friends and family have enough to eat. If your neighborhood food bank has enough food to give to poor people. And if you can spare it, knowing it will go for a new trampoline, new sneakers for the babies, that sort of thing.
   So that's that. My first fundraiser. I feel dirty. Good, but dirty. I think I'll go take a shower and then check Paypal.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Late Night Dinner Snacks

So I just came from the alternative weekly office and it's nearly 9 PM. I was putting a cover story to bed, which will be available tomorrow by about noon at and I think it's a good one, particularly for anyone facing natural gas drilling in your region. On cover story nights my boss expects that the writer will show up and read galleys, then proofs, then put in pull-quotes and photos captions. And check for any errors along the way. This is days after the story has been read by my editor and sent back to me (in this case) with questions. I answer the questions, fix what needs to be fixed, then send it back. Next day it comes back with more detailed questions and I make calls and get those answered. Then again. Finally it's printing night and so while it's a bit of a pain to drive 25 miles each way and then spend 3 hours at the office--I am so not an office type guy, SNAP!, like you didn't know that! Ha!--but at the same time it's a sort of moment of truth. It's your (my) cover story, after all. It represents. And so there is also a bit of pride rolled into it being a bit of a pain.
    Read the story. It's worth the 15 minutes it will take.
    But now I'm home. Way too late to eat anything heavy. So I've put broccoli and cauliflower into a pot, cut into bite sized florets, and am steaming those. In a skillet I've put 4 sea scallops, not huge, just about one ounce each. I floured the and put them in hot olive oil infused with garlic. I put some sea salt and cracked black pepper on them. I added diced scallions.
    I think I'll finish them with a touch of good balsamic vinegar. Keep it simple.
    So dinner is going to be four sea scallops with steamed broccoli and cauliflower that will then be sauteed in the scallop pan drippings.
    Gonna be a winner for sure.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

So Madeleina comes out of the bathroom...

So the other day, maybe a day or two before Thanksgiving, Madeleina went to take a shower. I heard her in the bathroom, yelling and asked if she was okay. She said she was, then went back to yelling. "I've never in my life...." "Who would do this to me?" "I am going to cut people's heads off for this..."
    And about 15 minutes later, out she came, wearing the same clothes she wore when she went in, dry as a bone.
    "Did you even take a shower, baby?"
    "No dad. Now I am going to ask you something very serious," she said. "Did you have a prostitue with long hair in this house while I was staying at mom's?"
    "No. Why would you ask that? I never do that..."
    "Then tell me exactly whose hair it is that completely clogged the drain. I had to pull out this long hair, the most disgusting globs of.....oh, I have to wash my hands again!"
    And off she went to scrub her hands.
    "I hate to tell you, darling, but that's your hair," I said. "And the white stuff is the soap scum that collects on it in the drain when you don't use the drain filter..."
    "I hate you!" she screamed, then gave me several Whack! Whack! Whacks! on my upper right arm for good measure.
    Nice to have you back, Madeleina. I missed you when you stayed at your mom's.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Basic Wal-Mart Math

With all the talk about Wal-Mart and its poor pay scale and refusal to give people sufficient hours to make a living, I thought it might be interesting to take a peek into what raising those salaries for the stockers, the check out people, the docents and all the others Wal-Mart workers would cost and mean to the company. So here is a rough idea. I'm sure someone will have more precise figures for me, and if you do, please let me have them so that I can make this more precise.
   Oh, and thank you Occupy Wall Street, for shining a light into a lot of places that have kept themselves shrouded in darkness for a long time. We needed that window opened so that some fresh air could come in and move a little of the dust gathering on all those monied billionaires.
   And no, I don't think most of us are jealous of people who make money. I do think we are irate now that we've learned how much money some people make, particularly in light of how much they pay the people who help them make that money.

Okay, let's do some basic, round-figure Wal-Mart store math.
Walmart end-year profit was roughly $12 billion in its U.S. stores in 2011.
    It employs roughly 1.5 million workers in the U.S.
    If each worker were given a $3 per hour raise--in cash and/or benefits--and we presumed a general, in-the-ballpark figure of 33 hours per week per worker, that would come to roughly $100 per worker per week, or $5000 per year per worker raise.
    1.5 million workers by $5.000 each comes to 7.5 billion dollars.
    Which would leave profits at about $4.5 billion for the Waltons and their share holders.
    Of course, much of that would be turned around and spent in Wal-Mart stores so some of that would then increase Wal-Mart profits.
    And all of it could be written off as expenses, which would possibly save the Waltons and their shareholders some tax money as well.
    Paying their workers the extra $3 an hour would hurt their bottom line, of course. No question about it. But moving that many lower strata workers from $8.50--$11 per hour (after several years) to $11.50--$14.50 per hour (after several years) would be a full step up the socio-economic ladder for those workers and would have a huge ripple effect on local economies where Wal-Marts exist. When local communities have 200-300 people adding $100 bucks each week into the general pot, that is fairly enormous.
    Remember that these are just ballpark figures based on basic research. Remember also that the loss of part of the profit pie does not affect what the upper echelon employees make: Those making $2000-$8000 per hour would not be affected. Per-share profit would decline, and the money taken by the Walton children would decline. Of course, they'd still have their aggregate $100 billion, and they'd still get about half of the $4.5 billion U.S. profit, and they'd still get their share of the $4 + billion made in Wal-Mart stores located outside the U.S. So yes, they'd make less money.
   But they'd still be doing okay. And 1.5 million of their employees and their families would be a lot less desperate to make ends meet.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thankful Things

I know I'm weighing in late. I also know that the Native Americans were slaughtered and that is not something to celebrate. But I know too that for so many people leaving Europe because of the oppression--religious, financial and elsewhere--this place, what we call the United States, was a haven. It was a haven for my grandpa, who came from Ireland in 1870 or so and wound up a lawyer here. It was a haven for my ma's pa, my other grandpa, who came here in 1912 as an indentured Irish servant and worked on the Boston RR yards for a long time until he paid off his price and his family debt and finally went to NYU and became an engineer and engineered the air flow for the Holland Tunnel in NYC and the earliest large apartment buildings in New York and wound up with 41 patents (his wife, grandma, had 21 I think, mostly related to kitchen things, like the reusable pastry bag and such).
   And then I come along, my mother and father's son. Second son. And here I am. Old now, but I was young in 1951, a brand new baby.  Now I'm 61 and my hair is mostly gray. I cannot believe that. I walked miles today, fighting time. I walked miles yesterday and the day before yesterday and the day/week/month before that. I run trips to the Amazon freaking jungle for goodness sake! You would think the universe would allow me brown hair! No dignity for the old.
   So yesterday was Thanksgiving and yes, a large part of me knows this country was taken by force/deception/horror from the people who previously lived here. Who the people were whose land was stolen from by them I have no idea. Nonetheless, we are not celebrating genocide in my family. We celebrate the idea of living, sharing, joy. We celebrate the fact that the diseases didn't kill us. We celebrate another day or week or month of waking up and saying "Thanks, God, for letting me wake up today and see another sunrise." And that is whatever god you believe in, not any specific one. Cause  it is all too big for me to comprehend, and there are layers of angels and spirits between me and Her/Him/It, so I just do a generic Thanks.
    But then personally: Thank you to Billy Gerba and Anthony and Vinny and Jacky and Dan McGurran for being my pals as kids. Thank you Kathy O, Diane Z, Gail B, Clare W, Claire S, Audrey,  Albie H, Gail R, Chepa, Gasdalia, Claudia and anyone else who ever let me kiss you, cause I love kissing.
   Thanks, Chuck, Larry, Philip, Larry Burns when I was a kid, Lynn, Gritter, and a host of other people who taught me not to be afraid, even when I was scared to death, because of your courage.
   Thanks to my brother Mike who invented the Strong Kids Club and who made all of us do impossible things, painful and impossible things, to prove our strength.
    Thanks to my sisters Pat and Peg, who won awards for Baton Twirling and art at age 10 and went on to push me to try just a little harder to do my best/find my best.
    Thanks to Barbara and Regina, my younger sisters, for letting me try to teach, even though I'd hardly learned.
    Thanks to my mom and dad, fantastic parents and people who encouraged  us all.
    Thanks to Mickey Bayard, and Glen Wilson and Debbie Wilson and Sara C who demanded that I be a chef, not a cook. And gave me the freedom to learn on their dollar.
    Thanks to Mike Kennedy and his lovely wife who ran High TImes, and to Steve Hager who gave me the job of making medical marijuana a national issue, and Hemp a national issue, and Forfeiture law a national issue and then backed me when I did. Thanks to John Holmstrom, who let me kill a lot of ads for High Times that I didn't thing were right for the magazine even though the could have made a lot of money.
    Thanks to the editors at Omni and Penthouse and Wildlife Conservation who allowed me a voice.
    Thanks to the Fort Worth Weekly who picked me up when i got to Texas and didn't have a freaking dime. Thanks for believing in me.
   Thanks to Chepa, who married me and gave me Italo and Marco and had Madeleina with me. Having kids was the best thing that ever happened to me. And thank you Sierra and Alexa and my granddaughter Taylor Rain, for loving me. And thank you, Troy, for making Chepa happy--and that was not easy to write.
    Get the gist? Want more? Thanks, heart, for having an attack that didn't kill me. Thanks rheumatoid arthritis that put me in a hospital for months as a kid but only made me stronger. Thanks flesh-eating bacteria for reminding me that life can go in two days. Thanks intestinal rupture for reminding me that life can go in an hour. Thanks doctors, for saving my life so many times.
    And thank all of you for reading. Thanks for being part of my fantastic life. You are the power that comes to me. You are the exalted that have the strength I rely on. I appreciate you, though I don't know most of you. That does not mean you are not considered and thanked. So thank you.
   And there are ten thousand more. I appreciate you all. I think of you all and say thank you.
Happy belated Thanksgiving.
I hope you all sleep warmly, in the arms of those you love, this year and every year.

Drug War Column That's Not Going to Run

Well, I had turned this in for my column for Skunk Magazine. I love my column at Skunk. And this one relates to the new laws in Washington State and Colorado that legalize possession of an ounce of weed for personal use. Not eliminates penalties. Legalizes. The new law orders the states to open stores for sales--which will mean people will get licences to commercially grow the pot to be sold in the stores--within a year.
   Anyway, the problem is that a very good friend of mine and a former colleague over at the High Times magazine news department, Steve Wishnia, was asked to do an analysis of the two new state laws, which made my column redundant. So I will write a new column because there is a lot of news to go around in the drug war arena, but I would still like this to be seen. So here it is.

Well, the dust has hardly settled but the boots are at the door; they might come storming through riling up that dust some more.
    But we hope not. The boots belong to the Justice Department and the door belongs to the states of Washington and Colorado. The dust is the election that saw those two states make the biggest moves toward cannabis legalization any state has made in a long long time. No, neither law is perfect, and it is going to be a cold day in hell—probably—before state stores are up and running, but still, the fact that the voters got out there and said enough is enough and let’s get something on legalization out there is very freaking refreshing. Ask anyone who works in any capacity to end the drug war: Wins are few and far between. It took more than 10 years of effort to rein in law enforcement’s forfeiture spree; it took a lot longer than that to get the racist Rockerfeller sentencing laws even semi-tossed. So what happened in Washington and Colorado is in the win column though we cannot be at all sure that the feds are not going to come in and try to muck things up like they have with California and Oregon’s medical marijuana laws.
    Thus far, the news in parts of both states has been good: Large areas of Washington and Colorado have dropped pending marijuana possession cases for small quantities—the vast majority of all pot cases—and more areas are thinking they will join that tact. And if the states can actually grab their balls and open the stores next year, well, tax revenue will begin to flow. Which is one of the things that bothers a lot of my old cannabis buddies: They would prefer the weed be free to grow, use and sell at will rather than have it commoditized like alcohol. I understand their reasoning. On the other hand, I’m of a mind that a step forward is a step forward and the idea of being able to waltz into a pot store, shop for pot as if it was Dennis Peron’s old San Francisco pot grocery store, pay the man and stroll out to roll a doobie and catch a sunset…well, we all do that already except for the grocery store part. And that’s the part that’s at the heart of things. That’s the legal part. And if we can make Eric Holder and the Justice Department—and who ever runs it after Holder leaves his post (probably by the time you read this) to promise to simply not do anything—just stay the fed out of the way, well, then we’ll start to get some place.
    And now that WA and CO have taken this step, new bills have been introduced in Maine and Rhode Island—two small states on the far northeast for those who were stoned during geography class—to legalize pot there as well. And I’m pretty sure they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Because most people in the United States, just like most of Canada, are sick and tired of watching lives, families, and sometimes whole communities being destroyed by marijuana prohibition.
    So let’s keep our fingers crossed and say a little something into the next smoke you exhale to make it all just happen.
     BUTTTTTTT……one of the most interesting things about Washington’s new law is that it makes a distinction between cannabis and hemp—and now that cannabis is legalized and that distinction is in legal-speak in the state rule book, I don’t think it will be long before Washington petitions the Drug Enforcement Administration to have hemp removed from the Controlled Substances Act. And things are even more clear in Colorado, because the new law not only separates cannabis from hemp, but allows for farmers to plant hemp.
    Do not underestimate the value of those moves by the people who wrote the laws. If one state begins to grow hemp and it is successful, you know every goddamned farmer with a couple of acres is going to demand the right to get in on hemp. And then people are going to need harvesters that can work that plant, and then, and then, and then the world gets saved at the very last second by the evil weed that turned out to be an angel all along!
    Again, to have that even begin to happen, we’re going to need the feds to keep their big boots out of the states’ business. But we ought to have a whole lot of Tea Baggers on our nasty ass liberal side for that one, since conservatives, and particularly the Tea Party folks, are always clamoring for state’s rights. That should be fun to watch!
   BUT HEY! Put the damned bong down. Enough celebrating. Because while Washington and Colorado did the right thing, down south in Mexico the bodies are still being found without hands and feet; torsos are still being found in garbage bags and dumped on roads. This is the madness of the war on drugs and we have got to keep working to have the whole war ended, which is the only way we’ll help end the mayhem in Mexico, which is entirely fueled by the proceeds of the black market created by the war on drugs.
   And it ain’t just Mexico. At the end of November a second round of peace talks were started in Havana, Cuba between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels who have been waging a civil war for nearly 50 years there. The death toll over that time has been well over 30,000, most of those rural campesinos. Yes, this is the drug war too. What started out as a movement to get some of Colombia’s land redistributed so that rural communities could share a little of the bounty of that country with the small number of oligarchy families who controlled almost every facet of Colombia was first infiltrated by drug lords via the AUC, the right-wing paramilitary group that has been responsible for so many of the deaths there. But the leftist FARC, who initially refused to be involved with drug money, was finally corrupted during the 1990s and so everybody in that conflict—including the Colombian military, many trained by US Special Forces, is involved with the black market in drugs.  And naturally it’s innocents who bear the brunt of the displacement, death squad murders and all the rest of the physical and emotion carnage. So how are those peace talks gonna go? The government will ask the FARC to give up their weapons. The FARC will say that if they do that they’ll be slaughtered.
    But if we legalized drugs in the US, then other countries would follow suit, unafraid that US Aid would be cut off, and well, there would be no money to have a civil war in Colombia or rampant violence in Mexico that’s spilled over to Guatemala. I mean, there would still be a fight to redistribute the land, and there would be a shitload of old animosity to get past, but the money grab, the reach for the drug war riches, would no longer be part of the equation. Which would lower the volume on the violence considerably.
   So you see how it works, right? I mean if Washington and Colorado are allowed to implement their little but great step in legalizing cannabis, we’ll be taking the first huge step in stopping a whole lot of violence in a number of places. That’s got to be the real goal. Stop the violence. End the Drug War. Stop the violence. End the Drug War.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Okay, I Admit it, I'm a Political Junkie

Okay, I admit it. I'm a political junkie. I get ferociously involved in elections. Not that I make phone calls, but that I read, read, read everything I can on issues, on the politicians and so forth. And while I generally keep my journalist nose out of things--you cannot write a legitimate story that is fair and balanced if you've already written that you think some politician is an ass--things like the presidential elections are a different animal. I don't write about them as a journalist. I have no stake other than as a citizen raising kids, paying taxes and so forth. So I'm allowed my view. And in the recent election, Romney was so bad, so freaking awful, that what I carry into my house on my shoes after a stout walk in the morning at the park would be better able to serve as president than he. Why? Because he thinks people make money as a living. He has no idea of what regular people do. When I was a chef in NYC prior to all the cooking schools opening up in the late 1970s, I used to take $300 out of the bar till nightly for my pay. If I worked 8 shifts in a given week--in a 46 seat restaurant--I'd get $2400. My boss paid my taxes on that. And paid my health insurance. So I was worth $3200 or so a week. When I worked at High Times Magazine, I took in $53,000-$60,000 annually and my boss paid more than $14,000 a year in my insurance and another $10,000 a year into my 401K as his share.
     I started working with a social security card at age 6. I met my dad, on line for unemployment because his Broadway show closed, as I was applying for my card. So I'm 61 and have paid into social security for 55 years. I still have that card and still show it when people in Texas ask for my SS card.
    But move to Texas in 2002 and suddenly I'm raising all my kids on less then half of what I used to make, with no health insurance, no 401K. I still figure that probably 40 percent of everything I spend is on taxes, though I no longer pay federal income tax. Yes, I have three jobs. My income is roughly $32.000 a  year. I pay 15 percent of my freelance income, about $20,000 (which means they take $3,000) to the federal government. I pay my FICA and my medicare and no one in my family has ever gotten a dime that I am aware of from any governmental agency. I cook at home every day and have cooked for my kids--though they don't live with me now as they're grown--for every day of their lives. Fresh meat, fresh fish, fresh chicken, fresh veggies, potatoes or rice or plantain. Home made desserts. Why? Because we can't afford freaking ice cream more than once a month.
   I paid for clothes, dental, medical, all out of pocket. I had three life-saving operations I had to put on credit cards and paid them all off. I have a house I bought for $83.000 in January 2002 and I will finish paying for it in 37 months. We're doing that on $32,000 a year.
   And then I hear Mitt Romney say I'm a bum. I've raised three kids and am helping to raise two more. No handouts. No gifts. No freaking cheese. We give to the Salvation Army, we don't get. We borrow hundreds of dollars off of credit cards to help the East Coast after Sandy, not take. And I'm just a regular person. There are millions of us. We don't like being talked down to. We know what it's like to make a good living and pay good taxes. And then the market changes and we downsize but we don't complain. And to hear that nitwit degrading and denigrading all of us is offensive.
  We are whom we are.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ah, Peru

You want to play in the jungle for 30 years? Here's what you get:

Ah, Peru. Giardia? Check. Botfly infestation, included in cojones? Check. Malaria? Check. Hemorrhagic Dengue? Check. Bushmaster snake bite freezing right forfinger for nearly two years? Check. Upper intestine rupture causing an immediate op to prevent death with 3 liters of intestinal acids removed from stomach area? Check. Two further emergency operations on same issue? Check. Flesh eating bacterial spider bite causing holes to leak all over body? Check. Plain old flesh eating bacterial infection causing skin decay all over body? Check. Conjunctivitis? Check. Broken ankle several miles from treatment? Check. Heart attack? Check.
    Good to go sir. There's nothing left but death for you.
    Thanks. Feel like a million bucks. Used million bucks, but still here, still playing, still strong.
And I ain't even talking about the occasional piraƱa or cayman nip, or the foot fungus or that small stuff.
It's a great time to be alive, ain't it?

A Little of This, A Pinch of That.....

Well, how do I round up this last week? That's a tough one. First, I was glad Obama won, and I'm glad we dems pretty much kicked ass in the Senate, holding nearly all of the 23 seats and then adding a few more to produce a positive two. And I'm glad that Alan West and the dead beat loudmouth dumb, dumb, dumb dad Joe Walsh lost. And I'm glad Connie Mack is out in Florida and that the vaginal rape kings Akin and Murdock lost and I'm glad the Princess of the WWF, Linda McMahon, lost and I'm very very glad that Elizabeth Warren took a senate seat. And there is more, but I won't go too far into this. Just that I'm glad the dems kicked ass and that people like Kaine won over Allen in Virgina and so forth.
    These are not radical people who won. My preference would have been people further to the left. But they will be better, more honest, more decent than the people they beat. If there is just one ounce of humanity more in Kaine than Allen, then that's a win. If Allen West's idiocy masquerading as ideology is gone forever, and if Joe Walsh, who has not had an idea since he was born, is gone, then their replacements will be better to represent the USA. And in their cases, their replacements will be significantly better.
   Now if we could get Karl Rove to disappear. If we could make Grover Sniveling Norquist to disappear--or at least come out of the closet and make people pledge for gay marriages--we'd be moving in the right direction.
   What I hope for is that Obama can hear my old late teacher Julio echoing in the ether, when I told him I was frightened of a spirit and did not work with it. Julio, by then nearly 94, looked at me and laughed, then got stern. "Tienes cojones? Agarra su cojones!" You have balls? Grab your balls and don't be afraid. That's what I am wishing, actively, for President and President elect Obama. Let the tax cuts expire. All of them. Let people panic. Then come back and suggest we give a temporary tax cut to the middle class, based on increasing the tax on carried interest for the Romney's, Rockefellers and such and allowing estate taxes to go to 30 percent for everything over $50,000.
   I hope the president's people read this blog and I hope they're paying attention. No more coddling the very rich. Be stern with them the way all of us as parents have had to be stern with our two-year olds. We love them, we only want the best for them, we will die for them, but no, they cannot have more candy before going to bed. Period. PERIOD!
   Grab your cojones, Mr. President. If you do you will find out that the spirits couldn't hurt you at all. It was just an illusion. And Norquist, Rove, Adelson, Koch brothers, McConnell--whom I am stripping of the right to call himself an Irishman because he has shamed us like Hannity and O'Reilly, also ex-Irishmen--and the lightweight bug in the ointment, Cantor--they are all an illusion too. Grab your balls and walk through them: They have no solidity. They cannot touch you. They are figments of our collective fear. Of our nightmares. Of our imagination. They don't exist and they wield no power. Walk through them fiercely.
    Okay, I was gonna write more but that's enough. Maybe tomorrow I will tell you about how my truck and I have been at one with one another the last few days, and how no one in the world, no matter what kind of car they have, has had more fun driving than I have had. And I was going to tell you about how, the other night, when I wanted a particular meal--hot sausage with peppers, onions and garlic--I decided it would be better to make a hot sausage pasta with garlic, onion, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and zuccini--and while that was good, my stomach, three days later, is still itching for (boiled, then baked, and finally grilled) hot sausage with sliced bell peppers and onions with lots of garlic. So never disobey your stomach if you are doing your fair share of exercise and not over eating. Your stomach knows what it needs. Tonight, for instance, it needs a piece of organic chicken--I'm roasting the whole chicken but will only eat one thigh--roasted with garlic in a bit of olive oil, with cracked black pepper and sea salt--with basmati rice (have not had rice in several days/cutting carbos), a good gravy of pan drippings with (cheat alert) a bag of chicken gravy mix, some garlic, onions, an organic plum tomato, a diced pear and the juice of two oranges. On the side I'm having spinach in Balsamic vinegar.
    I was going to go into those things but I won't. I'll just leave it at the political rant. And I am serious. If Obama wants to go down in history on the positive side of the ledger, he must take care of business now. And to do that he will have to start with letting the damned tax cuts expire. That's just to let the other side know he's got a set and he's not afraid to grab them.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

So Much I Don't Know

There is a lot I know. And there is so much, so so much I don't know. I just recently discovered that I can go onto and call up a band or song I want to hear and voila!: someone has put it on youtube. I don't mean recording illegally--I wouldn't do that because I want the artists to get their cut--JUST LIKE I WANT YOU ALL TO BUY YOUR OWN COPIES OF MY BOOK--but I digress. But right now I'm listening to one of the all time great albums: Love's Forever Changes. A San Francisco band out of 1967 or so. Just fantastic: "and I could be in love with almost anyone, I think that people are the greatest fun...."
    WOW! I'm thrilled. And yesterday I was listening to the Blues Project, a New York band from 1964-67 that was unimaginably great. Two Trains Running; I Can't Keep From Crying; You Go and I'll Go With You, Baby; Spoonful; Backdoor Man; Flute Thing; Wake Me, Shake Me; Alberta; the very best blues band of the middle 1960s. Danny Kalb on guitar--and we're still waiting for a blues man to play the electric blues as well as he did; Al Kooper on organ and vocals--with whom I shared a joint after an appearance with B.B. King at the Cafe Au GoGo. Steve Katz played guitar and wild flute and Andy Kulberg played bass and Roy Blumenfeld on drums. Tommy Flanders, with an incredible voice, was the lead singer originally, on cuts like the lonesome Alberta, but he quit to be replaced by Kooper. Kooper was initially a studio guitarist, but when he was hired for Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited, there was another guitarist there named  Mike Bloomfield--and was so embarrassed that he left the studio. But he hung around and played a Hammond B3 organ that he didn't know was on during Dylan's take of Like A Rolling Stone--and Dylan insisted it stay. Kooper later formed Blood Sweat and Tears and while still recording his own material, SuperSession, ReKooperation and so forth. He also played with everyone from Hendrix to B.B. King to Cream, appearing on their albums. But he also produced. His major hit with production wereLynyrd 's first three albums as well as The Tubes first album in 1975. I thought he was god, even though he was Jewish to my Catholic. He was so good he made me question being an altar boy. That's saying something.
    And when the Love album is done, I'm going to look for Blind Faith, which was Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker. Clapton and Baker came from Cream. Winwood came from the Spencer Davis Group--which I might look up after I play Blind Faith.
   I had no idea until two days ago you could do this with a computer. You just go to, press in a musician or group's name and songs come up. Yesterday I listened to Joan Armatrading! Can you imagine? Who invented this stuff? Who made this possible? Who do I owe for the pleasure???????This is just fucking wonderful and I'm in love with the idea! Who knew??? Certainly, nobody told me. But then they didn't tell me about masturbation either--assuming I knew--and subsequently I had no idea about that until after I had sex with D. at 18. I'm just a slow learner I guess. But I'm glad I learned about the Mastur...thing and I'm glad I learned about youtube and music too! WoW!!! There are some smart people in the world!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

If you ever came on a trip with me, you would get a letter something like this

Okay, so my January trip is officially on now that I have enough people. Could use more but will not bitch about that. When people sign on, I talk with them on the phone. I like to hear their voices and I want them to hear mine. We get a feel for each other that way: I wind up suggesting that about 3 out of ten not come because my trip is not going to be right for them. And then some people drop my trip as well. So I'm not a great salesman.
    But just to make sure they know what we're about, I also send out a couple of missives. And I never use the same one. I just like writing a new one to each group, the same way I like doing one or two things differently for each group: That way it stays fresh for me, my team. That's vital. Anyway, someone responded to the missive I sent out yesterday, so I got a chance to see what I'd written. Damn, I'm surprised anybody comes with me after getting notes like this!!!! But then, those who come are generally the very coolest of the cream of the crop. So we're always small, but delicious as a group.
    So just for fun, here's the first missive I wrote to the Jan. group.

Hello W, X, Y and Z: Well, aren't we a small but merry band? I hope the merry part works and at the same time I hope a couple of fence sitters join us. I just bought my international tickets and paid for the boat cabins to run up the river with us from your deposits--and did a couple of other things like paid for a new roof on the kitchen and paid for an emergency operation for someone, so thanks. I'm leaving on Jan 7 and will be in Iquitos at about 9 AM on Jan 8. You all are due on Jan 12, early in the morning, preferable. We're such a small group for the jungle--we've got a couple of people joining us for the mountain portion of the trip--that you are all welcome to come a day early--or two, if you want to help us shop for dry goods--which include food/shotgun shells/new hammocks and so forth. If you want to, by all means: My team and I generally have a party the night before the trip starts and it's fun. So come a day or so early if you like. We will pick you up at the airport in Iquitos whether you come on Saturday or earlier.
   Okay: Here's the drill: I do not walk on water. I don't wear white robes. I'm not anything but who I am: I smoke, drink, cuss. I also take your trip very very seriously. This is a life changing experience for a lot of people and my job is to get you in touch with the people/places/medicines that can facilitate that. But I'm nobody's guru. I don't think any of you are under that illusion, but I've had some bad luck in the past so I want to make it clear: I'm me. I'm one of the good guys. But I don't have no secret powers. What I have going for me is nearly 30 years in the northwest Amazon--I know it like I know a good hot dog in New York. It's in my blood. So I'll ask you to go with me on that: Once you meet my team and realize they are all family of my late teacher Julio, and that they all grew up where we are going, you will have faith, no sweat.
    Our itinerary: We're starting on Saturday, Jan 12. We'll be in Iquitos for two days--they are vital days to get your diet proper, to get over jet lag and to get in the rhythm of us. We will fill those two days with fantastic stuff. Some of it will be dirty: We might visit the local jail or do a ceremony at Julio's gravesite. We will also take you out to the river to see where the Amazon officially starts, and to my friend's animal shelter and to Belen, the largest market for hundreds of miles in any direciton. You will be introduced to Amazonian medicines, the brutality of the jungle, to the beauty and the horror of the place. The jungle is not pretty: As much death goes on as new life. That's what it's about and you need to have that in your blood before medicine. 
    At the same time, you will have decent/good hotels, great food, a wonderful team that outnumbers you by maybe 2/1. 
    There will be time to talk about airports and such. I just want to say hello and introduce you to one another in this email. I'm gonna put a couple of standard things below: A note on vaccinations and what to bring and what to leave home. Aside from that, know that this is definitely a dirt-under-your-fingernails trip: We bathe in the beautiful river--no showers allowed. We will live like people on the river live for a week. (Don't sweat mosquito nets: You will all sleep on mats beneath them. Or, if you prefer to sleep in a hammock, we'll have military mosquito nets that make a cacoon around them. We also will have some beds available for those who prefer beds.) Our walks will take us to high pristing rainforest, to a fantastic swamp, to collect the medicine we'll use in ceremony. I will have enough team members to allow those who want to fly through the jungle to do that and for those who want to just sit and draw a leaf, they will be able to stop and do that too, without interrupting anything. We will accomodate all of you at all times. We'll go out at night in dugout canoes and collect sapo frogs and use the Matses' medicines sapo and nu-nu. We'll spend an evening/night on an overcrowded riverboat under the Amazon sky, on the Amazon river. We'll have magic mushrooms appear when the time is appropriate. We will have magic around us.
     But there are rules: And these are inviolate.
1) No cocaine. None. No asking about it and if I find you bought some you are off the trip. Lost your money. Gone. Done. I am not going to go to jail for you--and they will let you go but put me in jail. And I'm not even going into the fact that I've lost dozens of friends in Peru to the stupid drug war. It ain't happening on my shift, okay?
2) Iquitos is hot. Courtship lasts about as long as half-a-beer. I don't care who you want to have sex with, but   whomever it is better be 18. I don't care if it's a dog or a chicken or a boy or girl. If they are 18, it's your business. If they are younger than that, off the trip. Again, not going to jail for you.
3) If you have to have marijuana--and as for former editor-in-chief of High Times I understand that--you must must must go through me. I'll do my best to get it for you. But if I find you're going to a shoeshine boy or girl, well, you're gone. So go through me, okay? I'm really easy, except for these rules.
   And the last rule: I don't like complaints. If I am not doing something you want, don't bitch. Just punch me in either arm between the elbow and shoulder. Hard as you want, without warning. Then you will have my attention and you can just tell me what I should be doing that I am not doing. Clear? I say this because I don't want anyone holding anything in: People who silently seethe can poison a whole group. I'd rather it be Whack! Whack! "Oh, now that you have my attention, what can I do for you?" 
   I'm a dad and happy with that. Don't hesitate.
Okay: Last note for tonight (and I expect you to memorize these because there will be a test!!!!!) is that I need you to give me your international flights once you have them. Remember: We start on Saturday, Jan 12 and finish on Friday, Feb 1. You want to come early or stay late, that's fine. It's on you but I will make certain you are well covered by my team both in the jungle and the mountains. But I cannot help with interior Peru tickets until I have your international tickets. I will recommend as a place to get affordable tickets, but that airline might not line up with your international flight. So please get to me once you have those international tickets and I can help from there. As noted, I already have my international tickets, so there is no turning back at this point. We're in. And we're in for a fantastic trip.
   OH, sorry. One last note before I put on the "what to bring" and "vaccination" and "food" notes: If everyone would get me the remainder of the fee by Dec 1 that will allow me to get the hotels, secure the trains in Cuzco and entrances to Machu Picchu and contract for ceremonies in the mountains and have my people fan out to find those beautiful little sisters, the magic mushrooms. As well as to collect some sapo and for me to buy my interior plane tickets and so forth. Sooner the better because I prefer to have things done early. But Dec. 1 at the latest, okay?
    Next missive in a couple of weeks. You all have my email and my phone if you have any questions. And you're welcome to pester me.
   And thank you all for joining. It's gonna be great, for real.
Peter G

Friday, November 02, 2012

Gotta Weigh in on Benghazi--Because the Lies are Wretched

Okay: I've worked for High Times magazine. I've worked for the cops in New York City. I've had a bar in Iquitos and personally squashed two horrible black ops the U.S. government was going to do that would have killed thousands. I have family connected with the CIA and I've got family connected with the bad guys, and they often are hard to tell apart, depending on the job on a given day. But I am tired of this Benghazi nonsense with Fox News demanding answers to a CIA operation in a war torn country, and I am dired of Sen. Issa with is committees and that nonsense. So here are a few responses I've given to people. I'm on a tear and I will cut you to pieces if you fight me here. I have the sword; no one else has anything. So just sit back, read, and deal with it.
PS: I love you all. I'm just mad at stupid people who cannot grasp the reality of simple situations. Peace.

You think it's really your business to know what the fuck the CIA are doing in a foreign 
country that is selling arms all over the place? You don't think the Ambassador was also working with the CIA? Come on, you are smarter than that. And it's nobody's fucking business what the CIA does on a day-to-day. If you want to dismantle security, fine. But if you like being protected, then you protect your assets. You do know that more than 30 people were successfully evacuated that day from Benghazi, right? And that maybe 100 or more foreign assets were protected. So we lost two mercenaries--and that's not good, but they were in it for the money, about $200.000 a year, and we lost one paper shredder, who was shredding the intel, and we lost one Ambassador, who was allegedly in Tripoli, but had changed his plans and gone to Bengazi for a dinner date with either a boyfriend or another operative concerning the gun running there. So what's your point? It's none of your goddamned business, at least until 25 years have passed, just like with all black ops. Before that it only gets people killed. And you are smart enough not to be the ass who posted this. I am incensed, yes, because I know how this stuff goes down. And no, it's not your business to know how I know. People's lives were saved by the dozen on this. Anybody saying different is a liar. And I hate liars. I still love you though--you're just completely misinformed and misled

My friend responded that he didn't like that the video was blamed for the attack. I almost choked on my browned swordfish on a bed of steamed asparagus with a gentle sauce of garlic, onion, scallions, tomato, red pepper, roasted sesame seeds and capers, with a side of broccoli, steamed then sauteed with a bit of salt pork , as well as basmati rice in garlic. I almost choked, but I didn't, because the food was too too too too too good. Now, back to the regular programming rant about dimwits and Bengazi!

The total evacs took several days. You want a president who gives up people at the airport? Or do you want a president who protects as many as he can. The ruse of the video--which caused havoc all over the middle east, with the single possible exception being Benghazi's attack--was a way to protect people. Heck, it's not like there are 20 Air Force 1's to get out people out of that kind of place. Even in Tripoli we don't have that presence. So it's delicate. You remember HT: It's delicate to do a centerfold. When are you open to arrest? When you arrange it? When you pick up 200 pounds? When you deliver it to the photographer? When you return it? I don't know if you ever did that stuff, but I can tell you that moving 1/2 ton for a photo shoot is a freaking scary thing. And there are lots of people involved. And the job, if you get busted, is to lie long enough to get everyone else free. That's the job. And while no one was moving pot in Bengazi, there were guns/arms/drugs/money being moved, and that's what our people were after: Trying to figure out who were the right guys, who were the wrong guys and then stopping the wrong guys. And maybe, must maybe, some of the right guys turned out to be wrong guys, and that left our guys in the lurch. Not a pretty place. But not something the president of the United States is supposed to talk about. Other people are at risk. It's a cautionary thing. It's a story to protect assets. This is not GW Bush outright lying about WMD's and outing a CIA operative because her husband, at the behest of the US, said there were no WMDs. This was an instantaneous situation where commanders on the ground called the shots. It sucks, yes. But there is no WW3 as a result of it. It's a tragedy, yes. But four dead, in a dangerous game that I wish we would grow out of, is a lot better than two dozen or 6 dozen dead.

A Very Sad (Political) Post

You know, one of the saddest things I can think of, and I wish I hadn't thought of it, is 16-17 year-old Mitt Romney grabbing a pair of scissors and exhorting his friends to run down the hall to "Get that faggot!!!!" when he, as a Mormon who'd never masturbated or thought of sex, had no idea what it was that he was against. Just lusting for the power, the power to run those boys down the hall to "get the faggot," cut off his hair and humiliate him. I wish he were a different person, but he's the same today. Running furiously, exhorting the mob, not knowing why they're doing what they are doing, but doing it for the power, the power.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Nice Meal

Well, so yesterday the kids--Chepa's babies and my granddaughter Taylor Rain--came over just before they headed out trick or treating so that I could see how beautiful they were. BOY! They were beautiful! Madeleina, still not talking with me, did not join them. I'm going to give her till Saturday afternoon, after a program she has, and then we're gonna fix this. Cause while you can get bored to death staying with dad, you can't go stay with mom because she'll let you get away without doing your homework. So we'll get that straightened out. I missed her yesterday. A lot.
   Still, I had to eat, and when I went to the store, thinking I'd be alone, I thought I'd maybe get a nice rib eye steak. Comfort food. And I picked up a good one at about $14. And then I thought, nope, cannot justify spending that much money when I'm broke--even if it would make me feel better about eating alone again. So I put it back and, still wanting some meat, kept looking. And there it was: Two thick pork chops, butterflied. $4. So I got them. Then I picked up some swiss cheese--Just a buck's worth at the deli counter, a few slices.
    Home, I steamed some fresh spinach, then cooked it a little bit in a touch of garlic and olive oil with onions. Diced up the swiss and mixed it with the spinach. Stuffed and folded the chops. Breaded them (flour/egg/breadcrumbs), then sauted them till brown on both sides, then put them in the oven to bake at 325 degrees. While they were cooking I got out some good saurkraut and cooked that down with some extra white vinegar and a couple of onion slices.
   That started, I went to work on the gravy. I started with garlic in the olive oil--as always--with finely chopped scallions. Tossed in a red pear, skinned and diced, then added a package (I know, I was CHEATING!!!!) of pork gravy mix, added what little pan drippings there were from the chops and voila! Great gravy.
   By the time the gravy was done so were the chops and kraut. Took half a chop ($1 worth of meat), poured the gravy on it with the spinach and cheese dripping out all over, and served it with the saurkraut. No potato, no rice, no bread. Just half a great stuffed chop with gravy and good kraut. Ate like a king. Fantastic! That pear and the good swiss made all the difference in the world.
   I still ate alone, but that just meant I could slurp out loud. Mmmmmm.....