Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Big Boat Ride

The other day I posted regarding my last two Amazon Jungle Jaunts, where I take people out to the deep jungle and we do some walking in high jungle while learning about local medicines, some swamp walking with ancient trees, some jungle medicines that include (for those who want them, never pushed on anyone) Ayahuasca, Amazonian magic mushrooms, and the indigenous Matses medicines, Sapo (aka Kambo), and Nü-Nü, a snuff. We also collect the frog with some Matses friends of mine, bathe in a beautiful tributary of the Amazon, eat ridiculously good and healthy food, laugh up a storm, learn a lot about life on the Amazon. Those dates are Jan 18-27, and Feb 1-10.
BUTTTTTT!!!!!! I didn't explain why they will be the last trips. Here's why: With the rate the jungle is trying to kick me out — whether it's dengue, septic spider bites, poisonous snake bites, flesh eating bacteria — coupled with my age, a measly 68, I only have a limited amount of trips left in me. Maybe 10, maybe 12, I don't know.
What I do know is that I have some legitimate exploration left to do, and that can't be done if I'm entertaining guests. I love guests, but this Spring, 2020, I'm gonna try to raise about $25 grand to find, rent, rebuild to my specifications, outfit a boat to take from Iquitos down to Leticia, and then up the Javari river, and into the Alto Javari and the Galvez rivers.
I'll have 7 crew beside myself, and I'm planning on the trip running about 42 days from setting off from Iquitos to return. Now this is a trip I've done twice, though they were slightly shorter trips at 29 and 30 days, so my ambition is up this time. And I've never gotten bored while piloting my own boat in the Amazon.
On this trip, 25 years since the last, i want to record for the record the changes that have occurred on the Javari since I last ran it. I want to return to the villages I collected medicinal plants from -- for a pharmaceutical house -- to see if the sons and daughters of the headmen from whom I collected plants are still working that trade. I want to revisit some old friends and make some new ones.
I'll be honest: I know this is a selfish expedition. But I also think it's valuable as very few rivers in the Amazon have a record that stretches 26 years. How much development has occurred? How much larger are the military outposts and the villages around them? How far have the indigenous villages moved and have any disappeared altogether?
I'm going to need a lot of money for this, and i don't want anyone giving up their lunch money or money they were going to send to the local food bank sending that money to me. I'm going to need angels, four or five or 10 who have capital and want to be part of something special. Who want to be there when it's time for the boat painting party in Iquitos, or spend the first 4 or 5 nights with my crew on the first leg of the journey to Leticia (where we'll drop you off and send you back to Iquitos with one of my team). There will be an accounting of every damned penny spent and people can hold me to that.
Anyway, I hope I can pull this off and that it will be the first of several genuine explorations that I will do before the jungle gets me for good, or I just get too old to do the work.
I just wanted to share that. Thanks. Peter G

Friday, October 11, 2019

LAST JUNGLE TRIPS COMING UP

What follows is absolute self-promotion, so proceed at your own risk. I'm going to be taking two more small groups into the deep Peruvian Amazon. The dates are Saturday, Jan 18 through the morning of Monday, Jan 27, and then Saturday, Feb 1 through the morning of Monday, Feb 10. The trips run $2200 US per person and cover everything but airfare and walking around money.
I've been doing these trips for 21 years and love introducing people the the Northwest Amazon, her rivers, her peoples, and her medicines. But I'm coming to the end of the line on them and it's nearly time to turn them over to my friend Devon, who has been apprenticing with me for several years. So these two will, in all likelihood, be my last.
So if you have dreamed of spending a night on a flat-bottomed riverboat heading up the Amazon beneath an Amazon sky, this is the time to join. If you have dreamed of being offered Amazonian magic shrooms, or doing the indigenous Matses medicines Sapo (aka kambo) and nu-nu with a Matses headman — as well as collecting those medicines with the same headman — then now is the time to join. If you would like to utilize ayahuasca in the same setting as I have been drinking it for 35 years with the nephew of my old teacher Julio, then now is the time to join.
This is not a trip to a luxury lodge. This is swamp walking, high jungle medicine walking, nighttime trips in dugout canoes, bathing in a beautiful tributary of the Amazon, getting plenty of dirt under your fingernails, and doing all that while having a rollicking good time.
If any of this piques your interest, you can message me or email me at peterg9 at yahoo.com and I can answer your questions.
Trips are limited to a maximum of 12 guests, and my crew will always outnumber my guests to ensure a safe trip.
The trip is not physically difficult, but it is the real deal.
Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Full Day, Doing Nothing

Full day, doing nothing. Today was a surprisingly full day, though it seemed like I didn't to anything at all.
Chepa, my ex, came by at 8 AM for coffee and regaled me and Devon with stories while I flirted with her. She left at 9 and I rewrote a story for Fort Worth Weekly that was going to press tonight.
Then a guest who was here at the house needed sapo, the indigenous frog sweat medicine, which always takes a lot out of me, and the Matses snuff, nu-nu as a follow up medicine.
I was pooped after serving the medicines.
Then it was time to go to the store to get food for dinner, came home, and the person who was staying here for three days for medicine had a friend show up. He was cool, but stayed for three hours, so there was some entertainment in the way of stories to provide. I did.
At the same time I was entertaining the new friend, I had to wash clothes for a speaking engagement at a movie theater showing a film about my work in the Amazon tonight in Fort Worth. So I had to figure out what I was going to speak about.
Then Devon and I went to the theater, I spoke in a meet-and-greet for an hour, then spoke to the audience for 15-20 minutes without notes, then came home.
I am tired. It's only 9:30, but I am tired.
Didn't do nothin' but did a lot. I hope I helped a few people along the way.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Someone I know Defended Trump...

Someone I know posted on a forum that if the Democrats keep messing around with Trump he might switch his allegiance from them to Trump in 2020. That's such horse shit that I had to respond. Here is my response, though it's way more abbreviated than I would have liked.
 
The democrats have passed more than 100 bills that are common sense things that McConnell is sitting on. They are working their tails off trying to put together legislation that would be a no-brainer for the Senate if Mr. M would let them get a hearing. So they are not causing any gridlock. That is all on McConnell. Thus far President Trump has passed a tax cut for the wealthy and corporations, locked kids up, separated families, raised the rates of the incarceration of those kids to over $700 per night per child while accepting that there is not enough money for toothbrushes for them out of that $700. He has lied 10 times a day, spends several hours a day by his own admission watching Fox News, then spends the night tweeting about what Fox News said that day. The action against President Trump should have come with emoluments, the Mueller Report, his publicly asking for election help from Putin, his roll back of dozens of environmental protections, his putting utterly unqualified people in cabinet positions, having his family be his closest advisors, or even putting tariffs on goods from China which exclude his own products and the products made by his daughter there. That's a very partial list of reasonably impeachable offenses. To that add the Kashogi murder that he ignored, secret meetings with Putin wherein he takes the translators notes so that there is no record of the conversations, giving classified info to Russia's foreign minister during a visit in the White House (that info released by Russia subsequent to the meeting because Trump did not allow any US people to stay in the room)..... Well, you get the picture. He's never produced a vision of policy, never come up with anything concrete. If he did, I'm sure the Dems would have worked with him while still going after his high crimes and misdemeanors.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Short Exerpt from one of my books

Someone on Facebook exerpted and posted this from my book, Ayahuasca in My Blood. It's not bad.

"I said I was tired of people who visit one curandero, listen to what he or she says and repeat it as if it is true. That is how bullshit gets spread around."
"So what is irking me are people who get part of a story and repeat it as rote, rather than stepping back and trying to see how that story fits into the larger world picture."
"How many people have I met who have spent a month in Peru and told me they were called to open an ayahuasca center? Ten? Twenty-five? One is too many. Get your ass down there. Learn. Spend some years, two or three or something more than a month or two before you think you know how to serve people medicine."
"Want to write that book? Talk to three or five or fifty ayahuasqueros who have 1000 years among them serving the medicine and ask them what the spirits look like: You will probably wind up with a mosaic with a couple of archetypes rather than a list of animal totems that is really meaningless."
"And me? I do not know anything, except what I have seen and learned but I know that 1) that is a very small window on a very large universe, and 2) my perceptions are colored by my life experience and should never be taken by anyone for reality, just my perceptions of what occurred."
"And I guess I am just old enough to be tired of people who are spreading falsehoods in the name of truth. Even if they think it is the truth, it is just their truth, or the truth of their curandero/curandera, not some measurable truth. I think, and I am sorry I have been rude in getting here but have also enjoyed it, that is important to remember."

Monday, September 16, 2019

RIP Ric Ocasic

Ric Ocasic, leader of the Cars, died last night. That's sad, because for people like me he's still part of the New Wave of music of the 1970s and early 1980s. So I guess both he and I are old. RIP Mr. Cars. You brought a lot of joy to this world, so you did your share and more. Thank you. I did not know you. But I did meet you. 
My sister Pat, the woman who designed the MTV logo--with help from Frank Olinsky--designed a lot of albums, from Duran Duran to Billy Idol, to the Cars Greatest Hits. For the last one, Pat, who had been jealous of my sister Peg's legs her whole life, used Peg to sit on a car in sexy red high heels and photographed her from the knee down. What people don't know is that Peg was 40 at the time the photo--album cover--was taken. 
 It was my sister Pat's way of dealing with her lifelong jealousy of her younger sister (by two years). 
I ran into the Cars and a lot of others when Pat hired me to cater a party for the Gorman-Olinsky Manhattan Design company. I didn't have much money for it, so I made great food, but decided to serve it in small plastic pails, so that when the guests came in, everyone from Sting to the Cars to, I think, the B-52s, and The Talking Heads, they had to go garbage pails picking for the food. 
It turned out to be a wonderful success, and I went on to use the same idea for things like the Yul Brynner redo of The King and I Broadway opening. Brynner wasn't thrilled until he got the idea that the cast was dumpster diving for food. 
RIP Ric: I hope you have a fast trip to the next stage.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Sometimes the Kitchen Calls Me

Hell of a day in the kitchen. My friend Devon, who is currently living here -- I wrote about him in glowing terms a few days ago becuse he's like one of my sons -- went away for a couple of days yesterday. My daughter Madeleina came home from university but had to return there today for somthing, so her live in boyfriend, Adrian, didn't come. Madelaina and I had a great meal of salmon with sliced red peppers, garlic, green onions, ginger, and Sesame oil on a bed of fresh spinach, watched a movie — something with Matt Dillon with a mustache that was REALLY wordy and I finally gave up — and then I went to bed.
Today, with Devon gone and Madeleina going to be gone for a few hours, I wrote a couple of recipes in the cook book I'm trying to get done, sang for everyone, stretched my back, wrote a blog piece or two, looked for a story for my newspaper, the Fort Worth Weekly, that I want to write, and then thought that I really felt like cooking.
What I wanted to cook was Sauce Espagnole, the basis for every damned French beef sauce, stew, soup, and anything else. It's a beef stock reduction done twice and it takes a lot of veggies, work, patience.
I thought I'd make that while I was cooking my fajita stew for dinner. that requires yellow jasmine rice. And then Boots the wonder dog's food, chicken livers, meat trimmings and a chicken leg had to be cooked as well. And I only have two working burners on my stove. So it was gonna be a day.
For the Espgnole, I bought about 10 pounds of beef soup bones with lots of marrow. I put those in the oven at 350 for two hours. Took them out, hammered them to loosten the marrow, then threw them in a stock pot with one head of organic celery, two organic sweet onions, 20 teeth of rough cut fresh garlic, five organic carrots, slice, and olive oil.
When all was brown, I added 6 liters of water, sea salt and cracked black pepper, brought it to a boil, then reduced to simmering.
While that was cooking, I trimmed the flank steak for the fajitas, a painstaking task, then marinated them in garlic, olive oil, fajita seasoning, black pepper, Peruvian achiote for color and taste, and white vinegar.
When the beef stock was done — reduced to 2 quarts after 3 hours — I strained it. Then I put 20 more fresh garlic teeth, two more onions, four more organic carrots, another head of celery, a half pound of Baby Bella mushrooms, a half-pound of very good ham, chopped, a full brace of parsely, chopped, four fresh beefsteak tomatoes and 6 ounces of the best tomato paste I can buy into the stock pot. I added the stock I'd made after the veggies browned, then added four quarts of organic grass fed beef stock (I was cheating a little, okay?????), brought it to a boil, then reduced to simmer. It's been on for three hours and probably has five more hours to go to reduce to one pint, which is what I am after.
While that was cooking, I cut the marinated flank steak into 1/4 inch slices and put them into a pot with their own marinade, plus two more heads of garlic. Thirty minutes Iater I added two onions slices into half-circles, achiote and white vinegar. Let that cook for half an hour, then put it on the back burner and started the yellow jasmine rice.
When the rice was cooking I stirred everything, washed all the used pots and strainers, got the chicken/duck food ready, fed the outside birds hummingbirds.
When the rice was nearly done I put it on one of the non-working burners and started the dog food: A chicken leg, beef trimmings and a pound of chicken livers.
When Madeleina comes home soon, I'll put the fajita mat back on the fire, add the red, orange, yellow, green peppers, the scallions, veggie stock, and later, a bunch of chopped cilantro. Vinegar to taste.
Also mde smoothies, a peruvian juice drink. I'm freaking tired. Feel like I was back in a Manhattan restaurant kitchen. Dang. But I still feel good.
I hope you all eat well tonight. Nice way, if slightly frantic, to spend a day now and then. Just you and veggies.

Small Bushmaster Bite

Someone asked about me being bitten by a bushmaster snake. It was just a baby. Still dangerous. Here's what I wrote:
Dear X: It was nothing. When I had my bar in Iquitos, Peru, people would bring in all sorts of animals and we'd buy them in exchange for a meal, then give them to a friend who would take them out into deep, non-inhabited rivers and set them free in their own environments every week or so. One time this guy came in with a small, two-foot long baby water snake he called it. It sure looked like a baby shushupe — bushmaster — to me, but I couldn't tell because he had it in a bag of water in a pail. So I took it out — I was pretty good at handling snakes, having worked with Rom Whitaker in India and watching him do it — it exposed it's fangs and I told him never to pull that nonsense on me again. Water snakes are often harmless, this was a baby monster. I put it back in the bag but he fumbled tying the bag off and the petrified snaked jumped out of the bag and onto the bar. It got past me and I realized that my baby daughter, Madeleina, was about 10 feet to my right, so I quick stepped and grabbed it before it could fall off the bar and kill her. Unfortunately, I missed the perfect catch just by the head by just half an inch, enough for it to snap into my right forefinger. I snapped it off quickly and killed it where it fell with my heel, but I knew I had a wet bite. My wife, Chepa, was called and rushed to the bar and took me to the Ana Stahl Clinic where my friend Jeremy Lenigan was volunteering. He shot me up with adrenalin, cleaned the wound, drew blood, and watched over me for hours. The venom was not injected in sufficient amounts to kill me — the bushmaster, even juveniles, can be deadly — but did get me sick for a few days. And I lost the ability to bend that forefinger for a few years. I almost have it back now, 19 years after the bite.

If I Take Jungle Medicines, Why Do I Get Sick

Sickness has come up in conversation
Several times in the last year, people have asked why, if I've done all this Amazon medicine, have I gotten so sick. They question the bite by the bushmaster, the septic spider bite that opened sores all over my arms and legs; they ask about my hemorrhagic dengue fever, my exploded intestines, my two serious bouts with flesh eating bacteria.
The crux of the questions seems to be: "If you do all these Amazon medicines, why do you get so sick? Maybe they don't work and you are just kidding yourself."
It is a legitimate question.
The answer is two-fold. One, if you play in the jungle as I have, every year for 35 years for a couple of months or more, walking from the Ucayali to the Galvez, or the Rio Midi from Tamishako, or from Herrera to Angamos via the long route, and then spend a month more on each of 20 trips in the jungle, you will expose yourself to some things you cannot imagine. Yellow fever is the only typical disease from the area that I have not had. Malaria, to me, is just like a bad freaking flu. Normal dengue is normal. We don't count that as serious. Bot fly infestations in my private parts and legs is to be expected when I rebuild a boat and take it out for 31 days on the Yavari, the border between Brazil and Peru, and tie up on trees overhanging the river.
My answer is this: If I was not using the Amazon medicines in the jungle and here at home — I did sapo, frog sweat, also called kambo in Brazil twice in the last two days, for instance — I think any of those issues would have killed me. They are all mortal infirmities. The medicines have kept me alive and ticking. No, the jungle medicines did not ward off the diseases and bacteria and animal bites, but they allowed my body to cope with them without succumbing. That is the medicine value.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

About a Friend

I am gonna say this: I like company that helps. My friend Devon Wright is staying with me in Joshua, Texas, now, and it's good to have him. I like the conversation, the company, the whole deal. What makes it easy for me, someone who lived alone for a long time, both before and after my marriage, or lived with kids as the solo dad most of the time, is that he simply pitches in. I got the cat food from the back room, both wet and dry, and he took it out. I was working on a story today and Devon went to the store to buy the stuff needed. I provided the stuff for the chickens, he cut the watermelon, cleaned the spinach, cut the hard crust off the bread -- and tossed the crust to the animals out back -- and I got dinner ready. Without a word of who should do what, birds, chickens, ducks, cats, and Boots, the wonder dog, got fed. Our dinner, a simple one, is en route. Dishes are cleaned. Kitchen swept. Appropriate drugs taken -- just kidding -- I mean the Peruvian indigenous Matses snuff, Nü-nü and nobody is stressed. That's teamwork, and that's a good thing in my book.
What are we having? (Vegans, close your eyes!) Paper thin roast beef on fresh country white bread with horseradish mayo, spiced Mediterranean cheddar, and tomato. Side of fresh organic cucumber with fresh lime juice.
Cool, right? I love living alone, but I'm getting to the point where I really love good company.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Guests coming

My friend, Al Giordano, has been posting wonderful food that he has been making. As a chef, I pay attention. He posted the ingredients to a sandwich that were so complicated today that I had to respond to him. This is what I wrote:
You make me out to be a pauper. I have 13 guests coming in for three days this weekend and all I got is: Friday afternoon: Hummus, meats, good cheeses, jungle guacamole, fruit, tomatoes with fresh basil, garlic, and mozzarella. For dinner stuffed shells with ricotta, mozzarella, asiago cheese, garden basil, spinach, shallots, eggs from my chickens, and green onions, with homemade tomato sauce, and mozzarella, served with chicken parmesan, spaghetti squash and a vegetable mix with garlic bread. Sat morning: Pancakes with fresh picked blueberries and Canadian maple syrup, double cut bacon, home fried potatoes, NYC bagels with Philadelphia Cream Cheese, three cheese bread and butter, baked, and fruit. Sunday: Baked eggs with ham and swiss and veggies, papas Huancaina from peru, papaya with lime. Sunday night: Barbeque of marinated chicken thighs, shrimp, beef sausage, grilled asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, scallions. With potato and egg salad, fusilli salad with red peppers, balsamic vinegar, and shallots, three beans with jowel bacon, garlic, and onions. Your cooking is way, way more complex for the taste buds than mine. So am jealous, all the way.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Curanderos falling off the path

Someone asked why a curandero with a good reputation might suddenly be acting very selfishly. This is how I responded:
There are several things at work here that I think are very important to remember. The first is to remember that the curandero is human. Knowing plants, having plant and other spirit allies does not change that. They get tempted by the same things that tempt the rest of us, and sometimes fall off the path because of that. Secondly: there is such a call for curanderos at the 100 plus centers around Iquitos alone — never mind the hundreds of other centers in Peru, Colombia, the USA, Europe, Central America, etc, who are serving ayahuasca, that some people serving have never even done ayahuasca. I know several camps around Iquitos where people I knew years ago are now serving and have never had the medicine, never seen a ceremony before stepping in as a curandero. Third, and this one is perhaps the most important, is that many curanderos work with the four magics (and there may be many more, but I will keep to the four that Julio LLerena, my teacher, and later my friend, used). Red magic is the magic of blood. It is the healing magic of the human and animal body. Green Magic, is the magic of nature. It is the magic that binds all of us together: The piss you take today will evaporate and be carried as rain to feed my children as spring water tomorrow. The piss I take, the spit I spit, will be the water that feeds your garden. White magic is the spark of life, the illuminating force of the universe, from the tiniest sub-atomic particle to the brightness of the stars. Black Magic is the molten, magnetic core of everything, the force that keeps things from spinning off helter-skelter, from the smallest sub-atomic particles to the earth, the sun, the entire universe. Now many real curanderos will wind up working with those magics and those magics will become allies. They will learn to heal with red magic, often utilizing the green magic of the plants and roots. They will bring light to darkness to illuminate problems, to expose fears, and so forth. They will utilize black magic to bring things together, to transform fear into fearlessness, cowardice into courage. BUTT there is an issue with black magic: It's magnetic force is so strong that in working with it, some of that magnetism will get on your fingers. You will be able to call things to you that you want. You will have that magnetic power to some extent. But the rule with black magic is that you may never call anything to yourself for selfish purposes. You can't choose to win a lottery ticket, you can't choose to get a girl or boy with that power. If you do, you lose all your allies and genios. But it is difficult to resist that temptation, and many good curanderos eventually fall under it's spell, and in so doing, fall off the path. So someone might be fantastic and loving and giving one day, and the next week they are out for themselves. It is a very difficult temptation to resist. And once you've fallen off the path, it is a very long and trying time to get back on it. I think that is why a lot of curanderos who work hard for years and decades, go through periods where they are not curanderos at all, but essentially leeches.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Poltical Insanity

Had a short piece to write today. Just 1,400 words about the kids on the border, which really irks me, because treating kids as sub human allows us to see them as non-human and that allows us to see their parents as monsters, and we don't care how horribly we treat monsters, do we? This administration is fukked with hurting the most vulnerable. Like treating a 3 year old badly--and the government just went to court and claimed that is nothing in the federal Agreement for treating immigrants with soap or toilet paper--despite the government's rule that all kids must be treated safely and in a sanitary manner, with decency.
So I finished that, hit my head on the wall 20 times because a concussion was better than thinking about the freaking Trump Administration's purposeful infliction of pain on the most vulnerable among us. Hell, last week they took a breastfeeding baby from his mother while he was feeding. This is stuff us Catholics register as real sin. And all you protestants out there, remember this: You are failed Catholics. And you evangelicals? You are failed protestants, you freaking losers. You are so far from a holy base of judaism/Islam that you are out of your minds.
Okay, but the thing is this. Despite my anger, righteous anger at the world, I made two dozen chicken wings, asparagus and sweet summer corn. So I am going to replenish with that and watermelon, and Madeleina just brought in half-a-dozen eggs from the chicken coop, and Bootsie, the Wonder Dog just ate four stuffed poblano peppers and Madelena painted our front door a light shade of purple and I cleaned the damned kitchen top to bottom.
Here is the thing: Politics can twist you into knots, and particularly people like me, who watch things. But you still have to grab a moment or two to be free, cook good food, take a walk in the woods, smell some flowers, so that you can come back strong and centered. Does any of this make any sense? I hope so. You have to be strong enough to fight good, worthy fights. And fighting this administration at every turn is a worthy fight.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Back Story with Peru's National Soda, Inca Cola

Here is the story on Inca Cola, which is bubblegum in a bottle. In every country in the world where Coca-Cola has products, it's the number one seller. It's a point of pride with the company. But Inca Cola is the national soda of Peru and Coca-Cola didn't like that. Sometime during the 1990s or early 2000s when I was living in Iquitos and running my Cold Beer Blues Bar on the Puerto Mastranza in the toughest part of town, Coca-Cola started spending millions and millions to unseat Inca Cola as the nation's top drink. They had billboards and sponsored live music shows and placed television advertisements all over the country for several years. And they still could not beat Inca Cola. So they decided to buy Inca Cola. But Inca Cola's family--the people who ran it, knew that Coca-Cola was just going to buy it and kill it. So they said, basically, we'll sell it on these conditions: You cannot kill it. You cannot come into the factories where we make it, bottle it, or distribute it. You cannot touch the formula for 50 years, long enough for our children and their children to run this company. The only thing they allowed Coca-Cola to do was to add a tiny "Product of Coca-Cola" to the traditional Inca Cola bottle design--although I don't have a bottle in front of me this second so the phrasing might be a bit different. But that's it. And Coca-Cola had to go along with that list of demands in order to say they were #1 in Peru. It was fantastic to watch that go down.

A Special Rock 'n Roll Moment for Me

One of my best rock and roll moments--and I helped build Jimi Hendrix' Ladyland on 8th street in New York, and built Island records studio on Grove Street and in the Carnegie Building for Bob Marley and Peter Tosh (and smoked joints with them while I was painting) was when Carlos Santana "Yes". 
 "This is Carlos Santana. I am going to Chlle for the first time and I need two things: I need to know how it is, and I need a lot of pot for my crew and band. I was told you could handle that." 
Now, as of yet I am not gay, but I almost creamed my pants. I mean, this was one of my freaking gods asking me for a favor. It was unbelievable. Just like when Catherine Deneuve called me because I had Woody Alan's last phone number and we wound up having phone sex. So Carlos called me and I hooked him up with pot in Chile and I thought that was a good thing.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

I'm Angry

You think life sucks? I'm gonna tell you another thing. The kids in cages at the border, the kids with no toothbrushes, no soap, no towels, no beds, no showers, no soccer or basketballs? The private prison industry that is housing those kids is charging $740 or so per night per kid. 1,000 kids: three-quarter of a million dollars nightly. Federal prisoner in a privately owned penitentiary cost $73 bucks a night. So who the fuck is taking 10 times that amount and telling kids a $12 buck soccer ball is too much, or a $0.15 toothbrush is too much when they are getting $740 a night per kid. Who the fuck is watching the hen house?
I will always reserve my right to be a fair and honest investigative reporter while still having feelings for human beings, whether housed for two-plus decades for nonviolent crimes, losing their property for a single pot plant on a 1,000 acre farm, or being a child who is brown. If I didn't have those feelings, I wouldn't waste my time being an investigative reporter. But yes, I am fair to both sides. If both sides are fair to the people involved.

It's Freaking Hot Here in Texas

Well, after five or so days, we will be dipping down below 100 degrees tomorrow. With the AC on, we are hitting 86 in the house for most of the day when it's that hot outside. Unfortunately, it's a cheap house with no insulation. I tend to fall asleep at my desk twice a day, just from the heat. And I wake up sort of sweaty and in a mean mood, ready to lash out because I'm so damned uncomfortable. I'm sorry, universe.
On the other hand, I've finished my story on the guys and women who were doing life in prison for first time nonviolent drug offenses, and I hope it gets the attention of some people who will work to get some people out of that hell. The people I wrote about got sentences commuted via clemency from Obama, and are all doing well on the outside.
So many people suffered from the stupid war on drugs. As one of my guys said: "All of the drugs they got in the conspiracy (crack cocaine, 1992) from FBI buys and what we had when they rounded us up, did not come to one kilo of crack cocaine (basically 1 1/2 ounces of cocaine cooked with baking soda to make crack). They charged us as kingpins with 15 kilos. Because crack was sentenced as 100-to-one of powder cocaine, we were all sentenced for 1,500 kilos of cocaine, automatic life in prison. Then they said we were kingpins, which meant life without parole. We weren't kingpins. Kingpins had ships and airplanes to bring in tons of cocaine. We had less than a kilo among all 31 of us. We still got life without parole for ghost cocaine that never existed."
Thank god for Obama's (late but better than nothing) 2014 Clemency Initiative, which released 1,794 people, 500 of whom were serving life without parole for first, nonviolent, drug offenses.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Little Things

Little things: I'm working a good cover story for Fort Worth Weekly about several people from Fort Worth who had their sentences commuted by President Obama. All of them got life without parole for first time, non-violent drug offenses. One wound up doing 10+ years, two others 17+, two others 24 and 26. All are now out, finally, and productive members of society. It is this societies shame that we would do that to people. All were scheduled to die in prison if not for the commutations, and thousands more remain inside, hoping for similar breaks.
Today was a photo shoot with a couple of them. One I already knew, the other I knew from phone interviews but just met today. Very nice people who got into street dealing as late teens. Damn, those sentences were cruelly excessive.
We had to drive 90 minutes each way for the shoot, and this is our second. My daughter Madeleina was taking the photos. She's already had two cover shots and done inside-the-paper shots another 15 or so times. She's got a great eye.
While we were out--with her boyfriend Adrian driving us--the dogs went a little crazy in the house: They pulled blankets and throw pillows from couches, tore up paper towels, and generally made a mess. Not typical for my dog Boots, or Madeleina and Adrian's dogs, Samson and Clementine.
I went about putting up groceries that we'd picked up on the way home, then sat at the computer to see if friends who were due over had left a message. They hadn't.
Suddenly Madeleina came into the room, crying. "Dad, I'm really sorry. I'm so sorry, but I think the dogs ate your caiman (South American crocodilian) skin. I'm so sorry, dad..."
She thought I'd get angry. I didn't. I explained for the millionth time that life happens, and accidents are part of it. I get angry at deliberate stupidity or not caring about other people. I don't get angry over legit accidents.
She was inconsolable.
I thought about it a minute, trying to remember when I'd gotten the skin. I told her I'd always have the memory of eating the caiman's tail, roasted with lime and garlic over an open fire in the Amazon. It was a pretty small caiman. Then I laughed and told her I think I got that back in 1986 or 1988. I told her I'd had it for more than 30 years, and that was a long enough time to hold onto it.
She finally started laughing. "You had that eight years before I was born!"
And then my mind went back to the story I'm writing and I thought of the people who have been in prison for more than 30 years for non-violent drug offenses. I think we've held on to them for long enough as well.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Leaving for Peru Tomorrow, and a Little Frightened

Hello all. I leave for Peru for 3 weeks tomorrow, for a Jungle Jaunt with seven guests, three of whom are old friends, and the four others friends I'll make. The trip has been planned meticulously. Hotels have been paid for, a shipment of bottled water, gasoline, petroleum, toilet paper and a host of other things has been sent upriver. My team is ready to kick ass out in the jungle, and I have a feeling the deep jungle is ready to kick ass as well. I'm getting strong and will do my share to make this trip special for everyone.
But I'm a little scared as well. As my daughter Madeleina has pointed out, I've come back from most trips in the last several years quite ill. Some of that is my fault because I always ask the universe to give me the pain if there is pain that has to be suffered for our incursion into the jungle, as light-footed as we are. And the universe seems to go along with that: My guests come out fine. I come out with anaconda bites that have left one hand nearly senseless, dengue fever, new bouts of old malaria, and in February, I came back with my second case of flesh eating bacteria. Three days after I returned home I visited a doc who put me in the hospital. The hospital put me in intensive care and eight doctors worked on me for three days before I was transferred to a regular room for five more days. I did 74 days of antibiotics, was off for three weeks, then started another round of 60 days. I'm nearly halfway through that and dry heave daily from them, cannot taste food--which sucks for a chef--and have some general malaise from the 3,000 mgs daily of the two antibiotics I'm taking to keep the bacteria, which have evidently cultivated me I'm told--at bay.
I am not really worried about that sort of stuff, even though it could be worrisome. What I am scared to death of is a repeat of my last flight from Lima to Dallas. I was really sick. The people at the airport said I was too ill to fly. I did not realize it, and they finally let me on the international flight. But during the 7 hour flight, I started to hallucinate. I mean, really hallucinate. I watched my leg, which was well wrapped but leaking a little liquid, begin to leak a lot. I had not had a drink or smoked a joint or done anything to provoke the hallucinations: They just arrived, full force. I watched my leg leak so much that it began to flood the airplane floor until the whole plane was knee deep in watery fluid. All of the people in the seats in front of me turned around and glared at me and some people asked what I was going to do about it. Their seats rose like theater seats so that they could all see me clearly. I spoke to a few of them, which woke the real people up and they told me to shut the hell up. It was one hell of a show caused by the malaria relapse I had, combined with the flesh eating bacteria, and the 103 temp I did not realize I had until we landed and they had a wheel chair and a nurse waiting for me.
It was frightening to be in an alternate reality while on a plane with the lights off. At one point I went back to the kitchen area and told one of the flight attendants that I was feeling lousy and asked if she might give me water and talk with me for a few minutes. She said "no. Go back to your seat." I thought that was harsh.
I made it through. But if there is a chance the powers that be can make sure that does not happen again tomorrow, I would be really, really happy. Oh, and if I can ask for one more thing: Please do not make me dry heave several times during the flight for a couple of minutes each time. Nobody liked that and nobody bought a ticket for that show.
Ah well, life's an adventure, eh?

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Magicks Again

I will probably sound like a broken record here, but in light of the near shots of war with Iran and the very disturbing situation with the youngsters in prison camps in Texas and elsewhere, I feel I have to repeat this. Among some traditions in the Amazon region of Northeast Peru, different colors are evoked as magics. Red magic is the magic of blood, of the life force that moves through all living things and can be invoked by healers to assist in locating a physical issue and curing it as well. White magic is the illuminating spark that keeps all things alive and can be invoked to bring illumination to problems, such as exposing fear, which festers, and is arguably the cause of all of humanity's self-made ills. Black magic is the molten core of all things that holds everything together. It is the magnetic force the keeps us from falling apart and keeps the universe spinning. It can be invoked to suck out negativity, like fear, and transform it to fearlessness in its molten fires. Or cowardice to courage. Green magic is the magic of all of the natural world, all of the rivers and waters and the things that water helps produce: All of our food, our trees, flowers, weeds, everything, and it keeps us alive as well.
I often dwell on Green magic because of all the magics I've been exposed to, it is the one that seems simplest to understand, and the one that should bind all of us together, regardless of our differences. I wish I could get the world to understand that the urine I pee today will wind up the water growing food to feed your family next week or next month, halfway around the world. As theirs will one day soon water my garden. That's pretty simple, right? If we could just get people to realize how interdependent we are we would not treat those youngsters in the border cages like we do; we would stop wars in an instant. We would fight for each other, not with each other.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Dinner on a Very Hot Day

The air conditioner went down yesterday and the house went up to 92. It was hot. So hot that I did not want to cook much of anything because that would bring the heat up even more. And I was already steeping three liters of Una de Gato, a Peruvian medicinal tea that is a general tonic and also does wonders for your immune system.
So when I went to the store I opted for fresh sea scallops and shrimp. I picked up 6 scallops and 10 good-sized wild caught shrimp, a bag of spinach, couple of bands of scallions, and not much else.
Hope, I cleaned the shrimp and put the shells into a small, heavy saucepan at high heat till they were bright red. Turned the heat down, added the scallion ends, two celery stalks, chopped, the tomato ends, and the onion ends, then filled it with water and let it rip. An hour later, at a lowish temp, I had a good cup of shrimp stock.
Floured the scallops and put them in a saute pan that was scalding hot and into which I'd already put garlic soaked in olive oil, the rough chopped scallions and onions, and diced tomatoes. When the scallops were browned on one side I added the shrimp and three minutes later took everything out of the pan, then sauteed the spinach in the pan juice.
Removed the spinach, added the shrimp stock, reduced it further, added two table spoons of butter--could not resist--the juice of three fresh limes, and made the sauce. I arranged the spinach as a bed on dinner plates, put the shrimp and scallops on top of it, tossed the veggies into the sauce to heat them up and then topped off the dish with all that.
I didn't have to actually be in the kitchen for 10 minutes total--just cutting, cleaning, quick cooking--and man, we still ate like kings around here. That was good, and perfect for such a hot freaking day.
Then my kid came over and fixed the air conditioner. Cool.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Couple of Comments for Preparing for First Ayahuasca

Someone wrote me asking if I had any off-hand tips for a person going to Peru soon to do their first ayahuasca. I thought about it and a day later wrote this:
My primary tip would be to not listen to many people. Everyone will have an opinion, but let them go.
Next, forget most of the imperatives with regard to fasting, doing X days of meditation, having an intention for the medicine. Just don't eat after breakfast on the days of the medicine, and keep your food light and healthy. The reason for that is that with the medicine you might get an opportunity to vomit up some of the bile of your life--things that caused you pain, pain you caused other people. And if your belly is full of protein bars or Chinese food or pizza, well, that's what you will be vomiting, not the junk that's cluttered your life and subconscious.
The reason I suggest going in with no intention--other than being open to whatever the medicine shares with you--is that if you're concentrating on getting the money to buy that car you want, or concentrating on how to get your last love back, you might miss it if/when the spirits whisper something important to you. Less junk in the brain is better for medicine.
Lastly, remember that this takes two or three hours, and that you could do two or three hours standing on your head if you had to. You can remind yourself of that when you are in the dream if you come on a difficult spot. It will be over and you will be you again soon. Listen to the icaros, the songs the curandero will sing--they will guide you to safety if need be, or release you to explore whatever it is you need to explore. They are the kite strings that send you up and pull you back.
Have a great time.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Fathers' Day Post

It's crazy storming outside now. I was sitting on the porch, my ass wet from the rain that was coming in sideways and the hail, and I started to think about my father, Tom Gorman. Thomas Bryce Gorman, to be precise. He left too early, when I was just about 20 and he was just 63, I think. But I was thinking that he taught me about reading, about loving the Brooklyn Dodgers and allowing yourself to have an hour or two a couple of times a week to watch a game without feeling like you were cheating. He taught me how to deal with the local mobsters, and Broadway--He was a Broadway actor--and how he never yelled at me when, at 12-14, I'd grab a bus, then the train, and go to where his shows were playing. He never said it was dangerous. He just said, be careful. And then he would do outlandish things, like tell punks to get off the train at the next stop, and they would do it, afraid of what that crazy man might do. He taught me to be strong beyond my physical limits, to keep at things till you got them right, to know that hugging your girl, my mom in his case, in public was a good thing. He believed in me. I have no idea why.
Of course, I've been a dad now for 27 years, and I know what he was doing. He was teaching. He was going to die one day and wanted me to know how to do it. I try. I sometimes succeed. I sometimes fail. But I keep getting up of the mat of my own making and try harder. And my kids are grown up and good, despite my failings.
So I've been a little bit sobbing to the rain out there that I don't have a father anymore. And I've been a little bit sobbing over my own failures. And I am forever thankful that my kids seem to have graduated from my school of whatever with freaking good degrees.
Thanks, Tom.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

A Note on Sapo and Nü-nü

Someone wrote me a wonderful letter about how much she liked my Sapo book. And she asked why I described using the medicines with the indigenous Matses appears much more intense than videos she's seen of people using the same, or similar, medicines. Here's my response:

Dear X: Thank you for writing, and thanks for liking my book!
   I've found that every darned medidine from the jungle is hard. You have to really want to do them, and they don't make it easy on you.
    Sapo is the version of the frog sweat that I use. That is mixed with saliva and generally applied through skin burned with a fairly large stick, while Kambo, the Brazilian version, is generally mixed with water and applied through very small burns. I find the sapo version considerably more intense.
    The first time Pablo gave me sapo it was very intense. I had no reference point for it at all. And it remains intense hundreds of times, maybe thousands, of times later. But knowing that the peak will be passed after 13 or so minutes, at the most (with rare exceptions) in 18, well, that allows a person to panic a lot less than if they had no idea how long the intense part of the experience would last. Most people these days are prepped before hand, have people taking care of them, etc, so for most people it's difficult but not impossibly hard.
     As for nu-nu, well, again, most people doing snuffs are doing different mixtures than what the Matses utilized. And very few people are doing the amounts of snuff the Matses used: I'd be served 15 half-gram hits in each nostril in a matter of two minutes. They still serve me 5-7 half-gram hits in a minute these days. That accounts for the difference in experience. Most people I know are taking two or three small hits in each nostril, which don't add up to a half-gram altogether. Which is fine, it's still good medicine, but it won't produce the hunting visions the Matses needed.
     I hope that helps. And again, thank you for writing.
Peter G

Monday, June 10, 2019

What about fighting for people's rights as humans?

So tonight, with Madeleina with me and maybe her friend Patrick, but no boyfriend, no other kids or grandkids, I wasn't in the mood to cook. I cook my Uncle Clem's Chicken last night, a broccoli, chicken, mushroom sauce dish topped with good mozzarella cheese and baked till brown--then served over good rice--last night, and I did bar-be-que the two previous nights. So I had the idea of either making a nice chicken/celery salad with the left over grilled chicken, or using up the left over cheese I had in the fridge: Cheddar, Swiss, parmesan, and making a cheese sauce for the left over chicken and serving it with left over rice.
I opted for the latter. I had minced garlic in good olive oil, put in diced onion and a good organic tomato--diced--plus Peruvian pink sea salt and good cracked black pepper, and then the cheeses, plus a bit of organic vegetable stock. The grilled chicken has been deboned (the bones are going to Bootsie, the blind wonder dog) and is heating up in a 27-year-old saute pan with garlic and cilantro; the sauce is done and ready to add to the chicken, which will be served over nice basmati rice.
I'll make a cucumber/onion salad with lime. I think we're gonna eat well tonight. And I hope all of you and everyone in the world does as well. I know that can't happen. We are too cruel a species. But I will still root and fight for it, okay? And I expect everyone who ate well to fight for the people who did not, too. Deal?

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Warning!!! Food Porn Ahead!!!


Warning! Food Porn Ahead!!!!
So after 74 days of sometimes six, sometimes two antibiotics a day to defeat my damned flesh eating bacteria and save my legs and life, I finally got off them on May 6 or so. Two weeks later, my taste buds began to come back. For some people their loss would go unnoticed. For a former NYC chef, it hurt a lot that I could not taste anything and that I knew I was making second rate food.
By 10 days ago, or so, I started feeling my cooking oats, even though I only cook one meal a day these days, as the kids are grown and live their own lives, and I am no longer cooking in restaurants. So my son Italo brought over all the kids and his wife and my daughter was back from school and I made simple burgers with good cheese and a potato/egg salad with our own fresh duck eggs, with a dash of vinegar, and steamed broccoli on the side. That was good. High quality cheeses: Bleu, fresh mozzarella, block cheddar, swiss to go along. Plus really good pickles, bacon, avocado, sauteed onions, and shitaki shrooms for those who wanted them.
Then I was in the mood for a good NYC sausage sandwich. So I bought good quality hot sausage, pierced and boiled them to get rid of excess fat, then baked them for 45 minutes to turn them into genuinely wonderful morsels of cow and pig snout. Cooked them in a homemade tomato sauce, then put them, sliced open lengthwise, on fresh bread from HEB (no, they do not pay me to advertise, but it's pretty good rolls and they can substitute for East Coast hero bread), topped them with more tomato sauce, then mozzarella and baked till brown. Served with asparagus steamed then sauteed in balsamic vinegar.
Then I was in the mood for a good roasted chicken, so I made one, cooked on a bed of celery and onions, and rubbed down inside and out with garlic in olive oil and a few sprigs of rosemary, and roasted till brown, brown, brown, but still juicy, and served that with red potato mashed potatoes in gravy made from pan juices, with a side of sauteed spinach in garlic and olive oil with cracked black pepper.
Then I got in the mood for something Greek, so I made Pastitisio, a dish that calls for short noodles topped with well seasoned sweet beef and lamb (cinnamon, allspice, garlic, scallions) in tomato sauce, topped with a good Mornay (white sauce infused with good parmesan, and seasoned with nutmeg) and eggs, then baked till the sauce is an inch thick and the juice from the meat has dripped through the noodles (in my case, penne pasta). Man, that was good.
We moved on to franks and beans: garlic and olive oil, fat back bacon, scallions, onions, good beef franks cut in 1/2 inch slices, sauteed till brown, then add lots of fresh tomtoes, diced, then a red pepper, diced, then two or three kinds of beans, then good mustard and sweet ketchup, and cracked pepper and sea salt, served over Jasmine rice. Man, that was fine.
And am getting hungry just thinking about this stuff, cause all of it waS good, cooked from the heart, and with the thrill of my taste buds back on fire!
So then I cooked a sort of beef fajita stew: onions, garlic, olive oil, diced red, green, yellow, and orange peppers, into which I put two pounds of flank steak I'd sliced thin, like fajita, and seasoned with garlic, achote, cumin, cilantro, white vinegar and a couple of other things and let sit for several hours to absorb the flavors. Let it cook down, adding organic vegetable stock, and then thickening with a bit of organic tomato paste as needed. Served over yellow rice. Scrumptious.
Last night I didn't feel like cooking. So I put chopped meat into a saute pan with garlic, olive oil and diced onions. Browned it, skimmed the fat, added lots of achote, then two cans of organic black beans, five diced tomatoes, a six ounce portion of cilantro diced, white vinegar, then mixed in the left over yellow rice, topped with good shredded cheddar and sour cream. Served with a side of steamed asparagus.
Tonight? I have two pounds of large shrimp. I'll peel them and make a quick stock of the shells with onion. scallion, and tomato ends, then put chopped clams into garlic and olive oil with diced onions, scallions, tomatoes, spinach and minced shallots, add a bottle of clam juice, my homemade stock, a bit of butter, and some minced, fresh cilantro to give it a little bite.
Now I'm telling you all this because on Friday I had the last blood test for my flesh eating bacteria and yesterday I saw the fantastic infectious disease doc who said I was perfect and should absolutely take a group into the deep Amazon in July (I already have eight slots filled). But then she said, as a precaution, I would be going back on a 60 day new regimen of antibiotics, starting tomorrow, and ending in early August. I will be dry heaving three times a day, I will itch, and I will not be able to taste anything. So I am glad I got a few days to make some wonderful food. And I hope you all get to eat wonderful food tonight, tomorrow and every day. And I wish for that every day of my life. Starting tomorrow, I'm back to freaking peanut butter, dammit.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Divorce Almost Finalized

So here is the thing. My divorce is finalized on June 3 or so. I had a most fantastic marriage/love affair for 6 or 7 years, and then a good love affair for another 7 years, and then 12 years of friendship but real separation. I am not gonna regret being the happiest man on earth for the first six or seven years. Yes, I paid with a lot of pain, but that is dwarfed by the happiness I was allowed to share in during that time. Still, my back has been bothering me for the first time in my life--I've got a really strong back, built by carrying and inserting a few thousand Sunday papers for years as a 13-14-15 year old. And that bothers me. But I know the back is also where we carry the weight of things that affect us. And today it hit me that I'm okay with the divorce but not totally happy, because it means that someone who really loved me is throwing me in the garbage. And that's okay because people change, but there is some part of it that hurts to my soul. How did I fuck this up? What did I do wrong? How come I couldn't fix it? What's wrong with me? And the answers to those questions have to come from me. This was my screw up. I messed up and I didn't check myself before I wreaked myself. And for the first time I'm letting myself cry about it because it really sucks. We promised forever and that didn't even last 10 years. I am going to have to go into this some, and hopefully, come out with, if not answers, which I don't expect, at least some letting go, even if that proves harder than I expected it to be.

Monday, May 13, 2019

A Note about My Brother and Becoming a Pro Baseball Player

This post involves my older brother, Mike. He is seven years older than me, the oldest of six. He is three years older than my recently deceased and wonderful sister Pat (who designed the MTV logo and did design work for the B-52s, Sting, Billy Idol, and a host of others), five years older than my sister Peg, seven years older than me, nine years older than Barbara, and 11 years older than Reg. We were a great family with a lot of laughs, sometimes not enough money, a father who was a Broadway actor and a mom who was a radio star. We did a lot of reading as kids.
But my brother wanted to be a professional baseball player. He worked at it and worked at it and made the famous Archbishop Malloy High School team and then a half-scholarship at national powerhouse St. Johns University.
He worked his butt off. Exercises, running, fielding, swinging a bat with a 5 or 10 pound weight at the end. And he played with the Queens Aliance teams, a semi-pro outfit that made him gas money every week, until he was older than 50 and got Bell's Palsy--which he's recovered from. He was a street cop in NYC, made his way to Lieutenant without connections, became a lawyer and is now a freaking judge in NYC, part time. He's 75 and going strong. He just busted his knees while running up to the 10th floor courtroom he presides over in NYC last year, but is better from that as well.
Growing up he gave me rules: If I wanted to be a pro base ball player I could not eat cheese, could not listen to rock and roll, and could not be interested in women. I got that the rock and roll and women would distract from the work to be a pro baseball player, but I never figured out the cheese. As a kid I though it was probably because cheese eaters were slow and fat; as a grown up I think he just didn't like it.
But not all music was banned. I could listen to r and b, and I could listen to certain songs without endangering my future career: "That's the sound of the men, working on the Chain Gang", and "Going to Kansas City", and Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons", and whomever's "King of the Road", and "Love Potion #9", and "Walking to New Orleans" was cool too.
And those are songs I sing almost daily, now that I have my real voice, a deep baritone. I don't sing no damned sissy Everly Brothers, or damned Elvis. But Nat King Cole is okay, are Muddy Waters, and BB King.
Can you imagine? They made that guy a judge!!!!
I love you Mike. I never had the skills to be a pro ballplayer, but you gave me a great sense in music!!!!!

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Gave my first talk in Texas

Tonight was the first real movie house screening of More Joy, Less Pain, a movie made by James Michael McCoy about me, the Amazon I introduced him to, and her rivers, people, and medicines. It was screened at a fancy-dancy place called the Alamo Draft House in Dallas, and the theater sat 70. It was sold out, but because of some really heavy storms earlier in the day, about a dozen people didn't show up. Still, about 35 people came for a meet-and-greet with Michael and myself for an hour prior to the screening, and the audience was great when Mike asked me to speak for half-an-hour prior to the screening. I love to talk in public. I love telling stories. I loved telling the audience that I thought they all looked weird when I looked at them naked. I think I gave everyone a lot of attention during the meet-and-greet, and I think I gave a good, succinct talk about jungle medicines and their value in my life, physically and emotionally. I didn't go into the spiritual part because that would have taken more time than I had. But I hope I gave generously, directly, and honestly.
I know I get nervous before public speaking. I kid about it but it is real. I went over what I wanted to say half-a-dozen times to myself, to my kids, and was still nervous. And I know my emotions were high. That proved itself when, on the ride from Joshua to Dallas, in Texas, Janis Joplin sang Me and Bobby McGee and I burst into tears. Without drinking wine.
And then hell, I started to cry telling a medicine story at the theater. Oh well, if people don't like it, there is nothing I can do. I'm a freaking open book for the most part.
For those who came, thank you. I hope you liked the movie.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Speaking Tomorrow, First Time in Texas

Okay, so I am scheduled to be at a bar tomorrow at 5:30 to talk with people about my work in the Amazon Jungle with plant medicines. Just for an hour. Then I have an official talk to people who have bought very expensive tickets to see a movie someone made about me and how I live between the worlds of Amazon medicine and regular dadsville in Texas. Then the movie will be shown. I will not see the movie. Cannot bear to watch/hear myself. Worse, I have gone over the salient points of my half-hour talk 20 times and am still nervous. I remember speaking at New York's Open Center several times, 30 years ago, and each time my friend who booked me had to drag me out of the bathroom where i was retching into the toilet prior to my appearance. For a guy who thrives on talking a lot, I am one nervous Nellie!!! Wish me luck. I hope I make sense.
Oh, the bar is in the Alamo Draft House in Dallas, and while tickets for the screening are sold out, the bar will be wide open. So if you are in the neighborhood and want to see p gorman sweat just for giggles, come on by at 5:30!

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Finished Antibiotics

Dear All: For the heck of it, this morning I finished the last of the antibiotics for the flesh-eating bacteria today. All looks good, with only one tiny sore not closed up. Pain gone, my voice has come back, and all I am waiting on are my taste buds. I'm really hoping they have not abandoned me. For half my adult life they were my gift of gifts from the universe: I cooked, I chef'd, I had a small catering company, I had my own bar-restaurant in Iquitos, Peru for a couple/few years. I fed my kids good, healthy food every day of their lives and still do--swordfish with a sauce of garlic, scallions, red peppers, and capers tonight, served on a bed of sauteed spinach tonight. But the taste that had me put just the right spices in the meals; the touch that had me knowing just when to pull the pan from the stove, well, that stuff, which starts with taste buds, is out of whack.
Still, that's the only complaint. Medicare took care of more than $90 grand in bills (leaving me just a few thousand to pay, whew!) for the initial 8 day stay in the hospital, including the three in the Intensive Care Unit, as well as a several hour stay in the emergency room two weeks ago, and all of the doctor visits since, as well as home nursing, medical supplies, and so forth.
The doctors, the nurses, everyone at Huguley Hospital was fantastic. Thanks all. And thank you all for the good wishes. Now it's my turn to start singing for other people again.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Good Day Gone Bad

One of those days: Highs and lows...so I turned in my section of a 3-writer story on FORT WORTH'S elections next week, knowing that my 1400 words are going to be cut to 400 because of space constraints and then today, got off pretty well with starting to mow lawn. First lawn mow since I got sick. Better yet, my friend, Mike McCoy, showed up unexpectedly while I was pushing that mower and he can testify that I was actually doing it. Good for me. While here he told me the screening of the movie More Joy, Less Pain, which deals in great deal with me splitting my time between being a dad, a jungle guide, and a sick guy, has sold out. He's got me talking before the screening and today we added an informal hour at the bar prior to the screening for anyone who wants to talk with him or me.
A couple of hours later, my son Marco came by to say hello and tell me he'd be bringing Chepa's kids--my wife/ex-wife till June 1 when the divorce is final--over for dinner and what was I making. I told him I'd make ribs, corn on the cob, and cucumber with lime.
Went to the store to get the ribs and corn--along with wine for me and sweet condensed milk for Chepa's coffee tomorrow, and on the way back stopped at my mailbox to see the tax refund of a few thousand was there. Hooray, the bills for both Chepa and I are paid from that for a month or so.
The ribs, rubbed down in garlic and olive oil with good cracked black pepper (at 250 for 2 hours) prior to me adding a commercial barbeque sauce that I doll up a bit, went in and I went to the front porch swing to have a glass of wine.
The girls showed up and Sierra, the older of Chepa's new two kids, was screaming in pain from an ear ache. So I put a chair next to the swing and candled her--rolled a sheet of newspaper tightly into a cone shape, put the narrow mouth in her ear, then lit the top, causing heat to go into her ear and warming the wax, which allowed the water trapped behind the wax to come out easily.
So all was going well.
Then Marco came rushing from the house saying he had to leave because the girls had just told him it was awards night at their schools. I kissed them all goodbye, then went to tend the cooking ribs and put away the rest of the groceries.
And then Alexa, the younger of Chepa's two new ones called, and asked if I knew it was awards night at her school. I said I did but I couldn't leave food cooking, but wished her wonderful love for working hard to get the awards.
When I got off the phone I felt lousy: I'd had two glasses of wine and don't drive when I drink anything. But dammit, nobody told me about this, so I couldn't go. I still felt like shit. So I called her back and told her how proud of her I am and that I want her to show me her awards and that I love her. She gets it, but is still disappointed. Pgorman isn't going to be there.
Dammit, a really good day just went down the freaking drain. What a fucking loser I am.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Movie About Me

Crazy, right? But someone made a movie about me.
My friend, Michael McCoy, has made a film--somewhat about me, somewhat about the present day upper Amazon, somewhat about jungle medicines, and somewhat about how that river and those medicines can create major positive shifts in your life. The film's title, More Joy, Less Pain, comes from an insight I had from one of those medicines, ayahuasca, during the very worst part of the dissolution of my marriage. Though separated, we had regular contact, and my wife and I fought constantly. I was always hurt. She seemed to always be pressing buttons that prompted me to go into a rage. It was not good for us, not good for the kids, and not good for her mother, who was living at my house while dying of cancer.
One night I had the insight that I had a choice and that I'd always had a choice about the anger, even though I hadn't seen it. The insight was that every time I felt my buttons being pushed, I had the opportunity to create more joy, or more pain. I could break into a rage, causing more pain, or bite my tongue, refuse to engage, and create more joy.
It took a while to get that routine down, but almost immediately we began to fight less frequently, and in fairly short order she stopped pushing my buttons and we started getting along pretty well again. It was good for the kids, good for us, good for my wife's mom.
Simple, right? More Joy, Less Pain.

Amazon Tea as Cancer Adjunct Therapy

Someone posted on FB that they were going to serve sapo/kambo (Amazon frog sweat) to a cancer patient who utilizes alternative therapies. I added this:
I don't want to talk out of turn here, but she might also want to drink a tea of Una de Gato and Sacha Jergon. The Una de Gato bolsters the immune system and the Sacha Jergon shrinks tumors. Making the tea is easy: Three or four sticks of Una de Gato in 3 liters of water. Turn it on very low, just steeping, for about 8-12 hours, or until it has been reduced to just over a liter. Add three tablespoons of Sacha Jergon, powdered, and continue reducing slowly for another half hour. Remove from heat, allow to cool, remove the sticks, place in a glass jar, and put the jar in a cool, dark place. Drink about 1-1 1/2 ounces per day. The liter will last 3 weeks. Take a week off, then make new tea. It's bitter, but so what? Very effective as adjunct therapy. I hope your friend gets better.
For anyone interested, there are lots of places where you can purchace these medicines. I would google under the names of the medicines, or go to Basement Shaman or some such to get good material.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Follow up to Pain Post

ing. I cannot believe that we live in a world where hurting other people is an okay thing. Someone told me that "enemies are only people you have not met yet". And I think that's largely true. It would take so little to feed, house, clothe, respect everyone. We could do it in three months for Christ's sake (And I know I am saying this on Easter, as a former Roman Catholic). Why are we so busy with nonsense that we don't take care of each other? Why do we drop bombs on people, starve people, mutilate people and then claim we are winning. Winning what???

Pain

Spoiler Alert: Slight morbidity ahead. Okay, so I was thinking about pain today. My legs, almost better from the flesh eating bacteria, were hurting. And I was picturing a nurse or doctor asking me what my pain level was on a 1-10. And if they asked me today might have said 4: Enough for Ibuprofin or morphine, but not enough for dilaudid. And that would have been accurate. But then I thought about how I felt when my intestinal ulcer burst and sent three (3) liters of acified melting poop into my abdominal cavity and it began burning my lungs, heart, stomach, liver and kidneys and that was a lot worse than today. And then I thought about a kid in Yemen starving to death over the course or two weeks and that would be WAY worse than any pain I ever had. And then I thought of Iraqui kids having houses fall down on them and cutting their legs off while they were still alive and I thought, well, compared to them I am a minus-40 for pain. So everybody: Can we stop starving kids, stop blowing them up, stop the endless pain which is so much worse than most of us will ever know that we are not even on the same damned scale? Can we do that for freaking humanity, please?????

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

About Fear

For me, nearly all of the world's pain comes down to fear. Yes, there are tornadoes and fires and childhood sicknesses that can kill, horribly. Yes, everyone you love will eventually die, leaving you heartbroken. But fear, fear festers in the human heart and soul and causes people to imagine they need more than they need, causes people to hoard, causes people to hurt other people. When I sing, I sing for the fear in people to transform to fearlessness; for cowardice to transform to courage. If humans could do that, most of the pain we make for ourselves and others, all over the planet, would disappear, just vanish overnight. Yes, the universe, this planet, provides plenty for everyone. But only if we are brave enough to share, fearless enough to not need to hoard, courageous enough to know that what we give will be replaced, and clear enough to see that your enemy is just a friend you have not yet met.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Sapo/Kambo questions and answers

An interesting exchange on FB recently:

ORIGINAL POSTER: Anyone knows for sure milking the frog repeatedly does not make him more prone to infections and attacks by predators?


ME: Unfortunately, the frogs have two primary predators: birds of prey and tree snakes--nearly all of them constrictors. For parasites and infections, I have never seen a frog milked by the Matses that later developed them, and you see the same frogs all the time on the river where you live; you know they are the same because they will have burn marks on wrists and ankles where they were temporarily tied up, and you do not recollect until those marks disappear. That said, their sudor, sweat, is what protects them from those predators: The moment the frog enters the mouth of a snake it gets frightened and releases its sudor, which instantly freezes the snake, preventing it from closing its mouth and allowing the frog a few seconds to back out of the mouth and make its escape. And yes, again unfortunately, when you collect that sudor, that frog sweat, that frog will take several days to rebuild its protective sweat, leaving it considerably more vulnerable to those snakes and birds of prey during that time. It's similar to a poisonous snake's vulnerability for several days after envenomating prey and using up it's supply of potent venom. Everyone working with the medicine has to own up to that being a reality.


 IYA: In other words, back off from the frogs
??? Stop mystifying the frog; they have they own life quite separate from you humans stealing its bodily substances,. enough,... its really quite sick seeing how you colonial people have latched onto this for your own ends,.. it will be hunted out if you will not stop being materialistic;
Enough

When will you people stop?
When the frog is extinct???


ME:  If people are careful and allow the indigenous to collect them and return them to their creeks and trees, there is no reason to think anything bad will happen to these beautiful frogs. If people collect recklessly and hurt the frogs, or keep them in captivity thinking--wrongly--that the frog will produce medicine in captivity (they don't; they've been for sale in aquariums as house pets for 100 years and produce nothing out of their environment), well, then things could go bad. But generally speaking, the frog is with humans for half-an-hour to a couple of hours, then released, generally to a lot of joyful thanks. That is my experience, anyway, and I would not allow anyone near me to do it differently.

IYA: People are not careful; you know this is happening right now and its being exploited; hundreds or thousands of non-indigenous peopke are flocking to this and its simply not sustainable; the same is happening with ayahuasca and fbe vines are becoming rarer, and you are naive to pretend its not happening; i am not wlling to recommend kambo anymore, its becoming too destructive to local people and frogs; i blame the western practioners for their unthinking uncritcal awareness and naivety,...
As usual they do not give a f*** about what the repercussions of how the latest ‘treatment’ for alienated westerner europeans, americans and asians will impact local indigenous communities,..



ME: Given that I'm the guy who brought this medicine out of the jungle 33 years ago, you must know how many sleepless nights I have had in my responsibility for doing that. If I hadn't, someone else would have 3-5 years later, but that is not how it happened. I was it. Yes, too many people want the medicine. they are layering its use with all sorts of mystic bullshit. But when you use the word "exploiting", I can't quite agree with you. If you have the frog in captivity, it will not produce medicine. If you hurt the frog, it will no longer produce medicine. It only produces medicine in its own environment: No one yet knows whether the frog is responding to the leaves and trees it is walking on; if it is responding to the insects that attack it; if it makes its medicine based on its particular diet; if it makes its medicine out of fear of its environment; or if it is some combination of those things. (No one has ever given me the lousy $10 grand I would need to nail that down, dammit!!!!!) But we do know that if you collect medicine twice, the second medicine will be very weak. It will not produce anything but simple sudor, sweat with no medicine, if you keep it to collect three times. You cannot put it in a cage, move it out if its environment, hurt it, or it will not produce medicine--which is why so many people selling the medicine on the internet are putting poisonous egg whites or yolks on sticks and selling it as medicine, or putting candle wax. You can kill this frog, but you cannot, yet, at least, force it to produce medicine. Which keeps it safe: The people who want the medicine want real medicine, and that only happens if the frog is released and allowed to recuperate for a couple of weeks. THAT'S the frog's best protection from humans.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Further on the Road to Mend

Been a long time, this time, but I'm getting better. Wow, the insidious flesh eating bacteria didn't get much flesh this time, but heck, I've been sick since Feb 16 or so, and have three more weeks of antibiotics, home nurses, physical therapy and so forth. Just laid me out. Including 8 hours in the ER last Wednesday when an abscess on my right anterior knee had them worried the bacteria were spreading. They didn't, I was allowed to come home.
I'm weak, however, and smoking cigs as I do without a lot of exercise to clear my lungs hurts things. BUTTTTTT, I am something of a fighter and last week I started driving, then driving alone (my leg wraps and pain prevented that previously), and when my friend Pat Agurkis came in from Wooster for some days (he mended fences, built a bonfire with my friend Mike McCoy, mowed the whole lawn, more than an acre, with a push electric mower, I managed to go to the dump and help dump garbage. AND I cooked my ass off for him and family, and now that he's gone, I still am. Last night: Chicken salad with scallions and celery from fresh roasted chicken thighs, along with a homemade cole slaw. Ribs for the girls and chicken wings--baked, not fried--for Italo, Chepa and also for the girls. Tonight it's a mac and cheese with four cheeses, bacon, garlic, onions, tomatoes.
Last night I also helped my son anchor a 155 hp boat motor onto a rack he built so that he can rebuild it, and today I helped move some old couches into his truck to take to the dump.
Chepa, my ex, clapped when she saw me working. "He's back!" she shouted.
And you know what? I may not be back, but I am getting there. THANKS for all the power you all sent my way. Definitely helped. Thank you.
Sorry you are all gonna miss the mac and cheese. It's gonna be good.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Continental cooking

So my son, Italo, all 33 years old, was eating left overs today and said: "You really know a lot about food, dad. I never really understood that you were a chef, even when we had our restaurant in the Amazon." That would have been The Cold Beer Blues Bar on Pablo Rossel, right on the Puerto Mastranza that we had from early 1998 to the end of 2000.
I said, "yeah, I was gifted with cooking". Thursday I made Chicken Parmesan; Friday I made a Texas barbeque with chicken in a Peruvian-style marinade, beans, potato and egg salad, smoked sausage, fresh hot sausage, rice, and marinated asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, scallions, and red pepper on the grill as well. Saturday I made a Moroccan lamb tajine with couscous and a cucumber/yogurt/curry/lime side; and tonight I am making open chicken burritos with roasted chicken and garlic, good black beans, pico de gallo, cheese, avocado, romaine, sour cream and hot sauce.
Four days: Europe, South America, North America, Africa.
Yeah, Italo. I know a lot about food. And I am very happy that I do. thanks, Mom and Dad. I appreciate the knowledge.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

The Importance of Drinking Water Prior to Sapo Use

Someone on facebook asked whether it was vital to drink copious amounts of water prior to kambo use. Kambo is the Brazilian name given to the frog medicine that the indigenous Peruvian Matses call sapo (a misnomer, but that's another story). The style of application of the medicine is different. Kambo practitioners drink 1-2 liters of water prior to the medicine to encourage a purge. Sapo users do not. Here was my response to the question of whether water was imperative.
   In my 32 years of using sapo with the indigenous Matses, I never once saw them drink anything prior to sapo use. I'm told that some villages are now drinking masato--fermented yucca--prior to the medicine, but I believe that is a fairly new phenomenon, taught to them either by Westerners or contact with other indigenous communities. It was not as though they fasted, however. They did the sapo (kambo) whenever they wanted: IF they happened to eat a few minutes earlier, that was okay. If they happened to have some i-san or masato prior, that was okay. If they had nothing, that was okay too. There simply was no protocol at all: Pablo and Alberto just did it when they needed to do it. So did Mauro, and so do Pepe and Jaime and a host of others. I've never paid attention to what's in my stomach--other than if I've had wine--prior to sapo use, and no, it is not an issue. You will tend to vomit less frequently, and if vomiting is important to you, then drink the water by all means. If the purge is not important to you, and with sapo style it is not, then there is no need to flood your system with water prior to medicine use. Just my experience, of course. Do what you are taught and what is right for you.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

A Story About My Kidneys

This post is for people who have kidney disease or know people who do. It is not a suggestion as to what to do, but it is my story. Several years ago I had an intestinal ulcer burst, requiring immediate surgery that removed 3 liters of poison from my insides--poison released when the ulcer i knew nothing about burst. That was followed by two more stomach surgeries, cut from solar plexis to below the naval.
There was considerable pain but I didn't want opioids, so the docs told me to take ibuprofin. I took 4-12 daily for a couple of years, and then the flesh eating virus hit my legs and that was two more major operations and then skin grafting and more pain and more ibuprofin.
Three years ago, when I hit 65 my medicare kicked in and my leg doc, the brilliant surgeon Dr. Ford at Huguley Hospital in south Tarrant County, Texas, told me to get a full physical. So I did. And the guy looking at my kidneys said that I was down to 33 percent function as a result of the ibuprofin. No one had warned me, and I didn't think to look at the fine print on the labels. He told me that if it dipped much more I'd need dialysis and then a kidney transplant.
That blew me away.
Several months later the same doc said I was down to 27 percent function and we were getting near the point of no return.
I cut the ibuprofin out as much as possible--reduced it to 3 ibuprofin once a week or maybe twice, hoping that would not kill me. I continued to eat garlic with every meal (sauted in olive oil in almost everything, let's say a full head of it daily). And I did a lot of sapo, the frog medicine the indigenous Matses from the Amazon jungle had shared with me 33 years ago. I did small doses, but quite a few of them. The medicine comes from a particular frog and cleans out toxins from the body, among other things. Sometimes I did it for 5 days in a row, sometimes 3 days, and in small amounts--as opposed to what I used to do.
When I was back in the hospital in late February for eight days dealing with the return of the flesh eating bacteria, I was told my kidneys were operating at 66 percent. I could not believe it.
Now I've been back on antibiotics for the infection for more than 6 weeks and do not dare to use the Matses medicine at this time. I'm simply not strong enough and don't have the courage to test the limits at the moment. Nonetheless, my most recent blood work, from last Friday, was assessed by my infectious disease doc today and she said my kidneys were operating at 100 percent.
I double checked that with her three or four times: She insisted they were in the best shape possible.
Unfreaking real, right?
I can't say if it was that the first kidney specialist was simply wrong, or that cutting out the ibuprofin worked, or that the garlic tightened me up, or if the frog-sweat medicine did the job. But the difference between being told I should apply for a kidney transplant two years ago and being told I could sell a healthy kidney today is huge.
I can't promise this will help someone else, except to say work at it, stay strong and positive, clean up if you have to do that, and fine things sometimes happen. I'm very grateful to the universe and the Matses medicine every day, but today I'm singing even more thankfully.