Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Good Roast Beef Sandwich

Okay, so it's the day before New Year's eve. Tonight Madeleina and I, and Marco, if he comes over, are having swordfish again. I cannot get over the flavor--although I'm going to hell for killing those beauties and will soon be a vegeterian--or more likely a nut-arian since lately I tend to feel ill when thinking about killing animals and vegetables to eat.
That said, last night Madeleina didn't want chicken. I was going to slice chicken breasts very thin, then marinate the pieces in Peruvian spices (achote, vinagre, dried hot peppers, oil, garlic) and then roast them.
Instead, I made her a roast beef sandwich.
Here it is:
Turn oven on to 350 degrees.
Turn one stove top burner on low.
Get a nice loaf of good french bread with sesame seeds.
Cut a piece that you think will be appropriate for your sandwich.
Take a red pepper, and clean it, then put it in a saute pan with a touch of olive oil and pepper and cook on stove top burner till both sides till done. When done, peel skin and eat that (just because we're pigs).
Cut the french bread open, pull out excess bread.
Put Hellman's Mayo or Miracle Whip, your preference, on both sides of break. Like a shmear. Don't be cheap.
Place mayonaise'd bread open in oven.
Remove bread when toasty warm and the mayo or Miracle Whip is melting into bread and bread is starting to brown.
Put paper thin roast beef (substitute ham or cucumber slices for roast beef as you see fit) on both sides of bread.
Salt and pepper roast beef or ham or whatever.
Place bread with roast beef or ham or whatever in oven. KEEP OPEN.
Take a nice red onion and slice thin. Put two/three slices (optional) in pan with red pepper when pepper is near done.
When roast beef is done and bread is at next level of browning, remove from oven. HOT. Be careful!
Take red pepper and sauted onion and put on roast beef.
Cover with pepperjack cheese or good cheddar or even better, horseradish cheese. Put cheese on both sides of sandwich.
Place in oven till cheese melts.
Remove from oven, close, and then eat.
Enjoy, everyone!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Here's Madeleina, In Living, Crazy Color

Well, you've read about my Madeleina. You've thought you met her. But you don't know the half of it. Last night, she and a friend decided to have a sleep-over and make a youtube video. And so they did. While I was sleeping.
So here is Madeleina's first youtube video. She's got two/three others that will quickly follow. You can look her up on as madeleinag. If that doesn't work, look for MadeleinaG.
Here's the url to the first insanity:
And yes, she's worth every moment I have with her.
If I was in Hollywood--and note that I am copywriting this idea as we go--I would write a sitcom based on dueling siblings who are trying to go viral on youtube. Trying to outdo each other, or the several of them, while the dad and mom, or just dad or mom, go insane as the kids record every second of their lives trying to become youtube stars. Those who make it make millions. Go viral just once and you are set for life./ That's what kids are aiming for these days, rather than good blue-collar or city government jobs. At least the clever ones.
So here is my Madeleina. Enjoy her wonderful insanity.

The Michelle Obama Weight Debate

An awful lot has been written about Michelle Obama's push for better foods in schools, more recess in schools, more exercise in schools and an overall push for intelligence in exercise and food consumption that will lead to healthier lives for an awful lot of folk. And less insurance cost for all of us. (NOTE: I'm a smoker, so I'm a bad guy here.)
The debate is silly. When I was a kid, John F. Kennedy, soundly disliked in my home, took Dwight D. Eisenhower's Council on Fitness to the next level, and Johnson did the same, and millions of high school kids had to participate in a physical fitness program that had us running a mile, sprinting 100 yards, climbing ropes and peg boards, doing sit-up and push-ups and so forth. I thought it was fantastic, and even my father, who didn't like either Kennedy or Johnson, approved of that government intrusion into our lives.
So Michelle Obama's pushing for better foods in schools than what my sons and daughter have been offered--corn dogs/pizza/breaded fried chicken nuggets (I made them nearly every lunch they ever had just to keep them away from that crap)--and more exercise to begin to control childhood obesity is hardly something new from a resident of the White House.
But, say so many writing on boards all over the net: She's just the wife! No one elected her!
Absolutely. But Laura Bush's reading program came from someone who wasn't elected and that didn't seem to cause such a stir.
If one really wants to look at a First Lady who pushed her own agenda, one need only look at Nancy Reagan and her Just Say No (to drugs) effort. That effort led to the now-debunked DARE program in schools--which we saw actually caused a serious rise in youthful drug experimentation. It also led, by extension, to the demonization of those who didn't Just Say No, which produced the Three-Strikes Yer Out! sentences, a refusal to make needle-enchange programs available nationally--a calamitous error, gave the Feds the public backing they needed to implement mandatory-minimum sentencing, which caused the jail population to swell to the point where the insidious privatized-prisons became the norm...And generally messed up the lives of millions of people who wound up with felony convictions and long prison sentences for absolutely no societal good.
I railed against Reagan then and for years and still rail against privatized-prisons and their lobbying arms and the demonization of non-violent drug users.
But I see more vitriol about Michelle Obama pushing veggies on school kids and encouraging them to play outside each day than I ever did about Nancy Reagan effectively hijacking the criminal justice system.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Jim Beam and Me

I don't keep liquor in the house. Haven't for years because when I do I generally drink it. All of it. What I do is buy 4 minis of Jim Beam at the liquor store daily--none on Sundays--and that's the limit.
Yesterday was an exception. I was on a road trip to Mexico for a few days on a new story and picked up a bottle of Beam at a duty free shop in Reynosa. Had a few drinks at the motel before bed. Did the same the next night. Brought the rest home. So I had it in the house. Just under half a quart. Much more than 4 minis.
Had a drink or two before dinner. Had a drink while I made dinner, which was steak with rice and broccoli for Madeleina, and salmon with diced red pappers, garlic and sesame seeds for me. With rice, spinach and broccoli.
Only I didn't eat dinner. Sometime in there the Beam and the exhaustion from the trip--mostly the Beam--caught up with me and I fell asleep while cooking. So I turned off the things on the stove and went to bed.
Or so I thought.
Woke this morning wondering what exactly happened between turning off the things on the stove and going to bed.
Madeleina very cheerfully reminded me just a few minutes ago.
"So dad, were you drunk last night?"
"Yup. Sorry..."
"I thought so."
"Did I do anything bad? Any screaming or yelling?"
"Nope. You were hilarious. First, I saw you sleeping while you were cooking. And by the way, the steak was not cooked well enough. Plus, you took out a pack of sausages after you turned the stove off and tried to cook a sausage in a cold pan, then you took a bite. That was raw sausage dad and you're probably gonna be sick today..."
"I saw that in the pan this morning. Neatly cut in half. I thought maybe your mother came over and decided to cook, then decided against it..."
"No dad. That was you. You already had chicken for Boots in the oven, salmon for you, steak for me and then you said you really wanted sausage..."
"Was that it?"
"Not completely. After you took a bite of the sausage you fell asleep standing by the sink. Then you woke up and picked up the big black flashlight"--she demonstrated--"and started drinking it, like this"--second demonstration of me holding the butt end of the flashlight to my mouth, head tilted back--"and then you said 'it's empty, I guess', and then you put it down.Then you fell asleep standing next to the counter. Then you walked over to Marco's door and sat down on the floor and went to sleep for about an hour. Then I woke you and you went to bed. That's why I thought you were drunk, because you don't usually fall asleep standing up--like three different times--and then try to eat raw sausage..."
"I'm sorry kiddo."
"No, it was pretty funny. Wish I had a video camera. You'd be a U-Tube star this morning..."
"Cross that camera right off the Christmas list..."
"Is that why you don't keep liquor in the house?"
"You got it."
"You know, you keep writing about me and everybody on the blog. So, you know, you should probably write about your embarrassing thing too..."
"Oh, shit. Yeah, you're right again. I'll do that now."
"Oh, and I put your plate in the microwave if you're hungry...the steak was way undercooked but that salmon was just fantastic!"

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Reagan, Trickle Down, My Madeleina

My daughter Madeleina, 13, got off from school early today and just a few minutes ago came into the kitchen while I was sweeping and asked: "Was Reagan a good president?"
It was sort of out of the blue and probably prompted by a mention of him on the television or computer.
"No, he was horrible. An awful lot of people loved him though."
"Why don't you?"
"Well, you've heard me talk about his team's work in Central America, right? I mean..."
"I know, I know," she said, cutting me off. "Presidents shouldn't encourage foreign rebellions over duly elected governments as happened in Nicaragua on Reagan's watch. Particularly if it involves permitting the sale of enormous quantities of cocaine to US citizens, the profits of which are then used to buy arms for an attempted government overthrow. And especially particularly if those US-citizens caught using that government okay'd cocaine are going to be incarcerated for long periods of time in prisons. Particularly privatized, for-profit prisons, which also began to occur on Reagan's watch. I have heard all that before dad. Like a million times. So why else don't you like Reagan?"
"The money. His idea was that if you gave huge tax breaks to the rich they would open factories and provide jobs to the middle and poor classes. He called it trickle-down. I think it was more like pissing on everyone who wasn't rich."
"Sound like a good idea to me. What's wrong with it?"
"Well rich people often don't open factories. They invest their money, they guard their money, they build themselves mansions... none of which really produce a lot of jobs."
"Building a mansion does..."
"Yes, for one construction firm and some contractors for a few months. On the other hand, if you give those tax breaks to the middle class, they start to buy cars. And when people, I mean whole groups of people, millions of people, start to buy cars, that makes jobs for all sorts of people. And then they have money and they want apartments and houses and that makes all sorts of jobs for other people. And then all those people with jobs start needing more stores and restaurants and middle class people open those and give more people jobs...."
"Why don't rich people open stores and factories and restaurants?"
"Some do. But a lot don't. I mean, if you had a few million stashed away and you could invest it with a bank and get a guaranteed interest--profit--or open a factory which might or might not wind up making you money, or a restaurant, which in most cases will lose money, which would you do?"
"So why do middle class people take chances and open factories and restaurants?"
"Cause it's their chance at becoming rich. If it works--and it's a lot of work to make things work right--they win. And if they're lucky, they win big. And then they take their money and invest it. Or build a mansion. Generally."
"So Reagan's plan basically sucked?"
"Totally. Robbed from the poor to give to the rich."
"Screw Reagan! Long live the middle class!"
"Now you're talking, kiddo. That's my girl."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cheap Shot

Well, a couple of years ago I posted 117 times. This is my 117th time this year. Which leaves me open to post one more time to break the record. Now I'm not saying I was very clever this year. I'm not sure what happened. I was just living and life was passing fast. Whether it was the flesh eating staph infection that took a couple of months or my work in Peru and the Jungle, or taking Madeleina with me to the jungle or coming to grips with Italo and Sara not needing me anymore, or pure stupid pride on being named best journalist in Texas for the second time, or simply trying to raise 9 people on $29 grand...who knows. But this year steamed by.
And so this is a cheap post, just to match my highest number.
All I can say of value is that this morning I got up at 4 AM, and by noon was hungry. So I made a simple piece of sauteed swordfish--garlic, onion and capers--with grilled tomato, and then this evening roasted a duck on celery, red onion and baby carrots. Seasoned with salt and pepper. Cooked at 340 rather than the recommended 375 but for 3 1/2 hours instead of the recommendeds 2 1/2 for a 7 pound duck. Added lots of orange juice from fresh oranges. Pulled off the juice and put it in a small pot in the freezer to separate out the fat (normally would do that by sight with hot grease, but was trying to teach my son Marco a simple way to eliminate the fat). Fat removed, I made gravy with the fatless drippings, lots of orange and some good raspberries I had frozen while fresh.
THat was a good sauce.
Kids loved it.
First time I've made duck in years, since the kids refused to eat duck when I last made it, maybe 10-15 years ago. Tonight they devowered it.
Man, that was good.
The babies are acting like a wildfire in the desert, jumping all over the place, taking turns feeling the pain.
And that's what I got. Not a lot.
Peter G

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hello, Everybody

Hello, everybody. Just checking in. I have been working so much lately, and with the New York trip and now getting ready for the Peru trip and trying to finish up two cover stories for my weekly before I go and getting my column in--which is due tomorrow--well, I feel like I've abandoned you. I don't mean to. And life here has been as good/crazy as always. Last night little Alexa, Chepa's baby, wanted to get tickled. So she started in with Mr. Peta Garman butthead!
Which got her tickled.
And then again: Peta Garman butthead!
Which got her tickled again.
That went on for 10 minutes until Sierra, Chepa's four year old, noticed it.
"Alexa. You can't say Peta Garman butthead. That's not right. You have to say Mr. Peter Garman ButtHead!"
Which got her into the tickling frenzy. And they both kept at it until I was exhausted. Even Madeleina and Marco started in because they wanted to get tickled by dad too.
And then there was the ice cream fight the other night, where Chepa bought the ice cream and I suggested that eating it was just like putting it on your hips--though she's getting pretty thin and could use a few--which wound up with her bombarding me with ice cream to the accompaniment of: "So, you don't want to eat it? I'll just put it on your fat belly!"
Which of course the kids thought was grand because it meant there was a lot of free mint chocolate chip all over the kitchen floor.
"Mom! Keep throwing it. This is good!" was Sierra's refrain, while Madeleina was all about: "Mom, you're disgusting. Just give it to me and forget about showing off to dad. You hate him anyway, remember?"
So we've been us and we've been okay. I've just been to busy to see how nice it's been, but it has been nice.
So know that I'm with you, I'm just dog tired.
And not nearly ready for Christmas. I got to go to Mexico for a story on drug gangs on the border in a few days and won't think about that fiesta till I get back. Whew! I'm living a good, fast, crazy freaking life. Guess it's just what I need.
I hope you're having a slightly more relaxed time than I am right about now.

Monday, December 13, 2010

This Just Came: Nice About My Book

Selfish post, I know. David Jay Brown just published this review of three new ayahuasca books, including mine. in the new issue of the MAPS newsletter. If I posted something like this before, I apologize. But what the heck, I'm proud of it, so I'm posting it here.

Drinking the Sacred Jungle Juice: Three Ayahuasca Book Reviews
By: David Jay Brown, M.A.
Singing to the Plants: A Guide to Mestizo Shamanism in the Upper Amazon
By Stephan V. Beyer University of New Mexico Press, 2009 532 pages, paperback, illustrated, $29.95
Ayahuasca in My Blood: 25 Years of Medicine Dreaming
By Peter Gorman Gorman Bench Press, 2010 252 pages, illustrated, softbound, $25
Fishers of Men: The Gospel of an Ayahuasca Vision Quest
OBy Adam Elenbaas Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, New York, 2010 288 pages, hardbound, $24.96
OVER THE PAST FEW MONTHS, I’ve been reading a series of books about ayahuasca- based shamanism and will be reviewing three of them in this Bulletin. Each of these books explores this fascinating phenomenon from
a different angle, and each of them offers a unique perspective on the magical landscape associated with ayahuasca, a powerful psycho- active brew made from several plants found
in the Amazon. The brew is prepared from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, which contain harmala alkaloids, and is usually mixed with the leaves of a dimethyltryptamine (DMT)- containing species of shrubs from the Psycho- tria genus. The resulting brew contains the alkaloid DMT, which is a strong psychedelic, and MAO-inhibiting harmala alkaloids, which are essential for making the DMT orally active.
Stephan Beyer’s Singing to the Plants is the most thoroughly and systematically researched of the books I recently read on this subject, and although it’s the most scientifically objective of the three books, like the other two, it also captures some of the author’s personal impres- sions, experiences, and insights. However, unlike the other two books, which are more personal stories, Beyer’s thoroughly explored analysis of ayahuasca-based shamanism is encyclopedic in scope, and it serves as an academic reference book that carefully catalogs the important anthropological aspects of the traditional and culturally-blended ayahuasca- based healing ceremonies in the Upper Ama- zon. According to Bonnie Glass-Coffin, Ph.D., Singing to the Plants will “be recognized as the definitive work on this topic.” In Beyer’s comprehensive volume he sees the ayahuasca healing ceremonies as primarily
being a theatrical art form, a type of perfor- mance that combines costumes, props, music, conjuring, poetry, movement, plots, suspense, stagecraft, dialogue, and sleight-of-hand stage magic. “The ceremony,” Beyer writes, “like other compositions in art, dance, and music, does not contribute a single message sent intact to receivers; it relies instead on the spectators to make meaning of the performance.”
Like all psychedelics, ayahuasca has a ten- dency to increase both suggestibility, as well as a sense of enhanced meaning, and when this experience is combined with the proper type of ceremony, or guidance by an experienced shaman, it is often reported to help the body heal itself from a variety of difficult-to-treat illnesses. The body’s innate ability to heal itself from illness is often brushed aside in medical research trials as “merely” the placebo effect. However, with ayahuasca-based shamanism the body’s innate healing ability takes center stage, where it seems to become magnified, and there are numerous stories of people who have had both long-standing medical illnesses suddenly and miraculously vanish, or vastly improve, after an ayahuasca healing ceremony.
Peter Gorman’s 25-year personal journey with ayahuasca, which is chronicled in his book, Ayahuasca in My Blood, reads like a page- turning, action-adventure story, and his exqui- sitely described experiences with the sacred jungle juice certainly stretched the boundaries of what I thought was possible into paranor- mal realms. It’s hard for someone raised in the West, with a materialistic mindset, to read Gorman’s book and not shake one’s head in disbelief, wondering, “how could this really happen?” He describes absolutely incredible
encounters with nonhuman spirit entities and transcorporeal shamans, psychic experiences with remote viewing and telepathy, contact with the dead, and striking synchronicities that confirm his ayahuasca visions.
The wise and generous shamans that Gor- man worked with, the spiritual allies that he gained, and the plant teachers that challenged and educated him are all described in fascinat- ing detail, intimately woven into his personal story about the many years that he’s spent living in the Amazon. Gorman, who was my editor at High Times magazine years ago, was one of the first Westerners to start spending time in the Amazon. As Dennis McKenna said, “Long before ayahuasca tourism became a pastime for rich gringos, Peter Gorman was knocking around Iquitos and the Amazon... This is the intensely personal story of an old- school jungle rat for whom ayahuasca is not just a hobby, but a lifelong quest.”
Like Gorman’s book, Adam Elenbaas’ Fishers of Men is also a personal journey and a spiritu- al quest. This inspiring book—which engages the heart and challenges the mind—alternates perspectives between Elenbaas’ childhood in Minnesota, where he grew up as the rebellious and hedonistic son of a Methodist minister, and the jungles of Peru, where he purges the “toxic waste” from his troubled youth during shaman-guided ayahuasca sessions. Elenbaas’ eloquently-crafted passages that describe his ayahuasca journeys, and his emotionally-grip- ping and unusually honest testimony, makes for a very unique coming-of-age story. Along with Beyer and Gorman’s books, I highly rec- ommend Elenbaas’ work to anyone interested in learning more about ayahuasca.
All three authors discuss the important role that icaros (the songs that are sung by the shamans during an ayahuasca healing cer- emony to invoke particular plant spirits) play, and I read repeatedly about the vital roles of purging, blowing tobacco smoke, and sucking transcorporeal phlegm and evil “magic darts” out of ill patients. I also came across a lot about of discussion about brujos, people who learn a little about ayahuasca-based shamanism, and then use that powerful knowledge for selfish reasons or personal gain. Apparently, there are long-standing rivalries in the Upper Amazon between these brujos and the more healing- focused shamans, where ferocious dark ener- gies and nefarious magic darts” are reportedly exchanged in a kind of psychic warfare, which almost sounds like the witches battling it out in Bed Knobs and Broomsticks.
Thus the three books explore both the light and dark sides of ayahuasca-based shaman- ism. Like any form of power or technology, ayahuasca, it appears, can be used to both
heal and harm. Whether it opens up a portal into other dimensions, where interspecies or spirit communication become possible, or whether it merely amplifies the body’s own ability to heal or harm itself through mys- terious means, almost everyone who tries it agrees – ayahuasca is pretty powerful stuff. So when ayahuasca-based sessions are motivated by jealousy, revenge, or less than noble human emotions, the result, it seems, can be quite dangerous. But with the proper mental set, and the right ceremonial setting, it appears that an ayahuasca experience can also be a doorway into amazing new worlds that offers profound life-changing insights, miraculous healings, and lasting spiritual fulfillment. •
David Jay Brown, M.A
maps bulletin • volume xx number 2 27

Thursday, December 09, 2010

My New Huffington Post Blog

So here's my new Huffington Post Blog

Obama Cave? I'm Concerned About Social Security

Okay, what I'm most worried about is not my president's abdication of power to the Repubs in the Tax War. I know he didn't just capitulate, he caved. And that bothers me, especially from someone who claims to play basketball. Personally, I was never a very good b-ball player. I never had game. But I'll tell you what: You shot over me or pushed by me or fouled me a few times and well, next time your feet left the ground I was at your knees, taking them out and watching you fall hard on your face. That's basketball. That's the way it's played in New York parks. Don't push me, don't embarrass me. Because sooner or later you will have to leave your feet for a jumper or a rebound and you are not gonna have any feet to come down on. Deal with it.
So I'm not sure Obama does have game, regardless of what he says. Now, if he'd have agreed to extend tax breaks on everyone for a year, well, maybe. Because that would mean it would come up again while he was president. But two years? That means it doesn't have to come up till after the next presidential election. And there is a very good chance he won't have to deal with it then. Which is too bad because he means well. Just doesn't apparently have the stomach for the job. And mind you, I'm rooting for him.
That said, the even worse part of the cave or compromise or whatever you want to spin it as, is the 2% reduction in payroll taxes for social security. That has me frightened. Because while that helps mollify the middle-class today--as in $10-$20 bucks a week, about the cost of a pack of smokes in New York--it is going to lend a great deal to the people who say social security is underfunded and should be privatized. And even more to the people who consider it a government handout.
Handout? I started paying social security when I was six years old and went to work at Louie's Candy Store in Whitestone. I worked probably 12 hours a week for him and paid maybe $15-$20 a year in social security. I'm a journalist and so have never paid much. But after 53 years of paying into it I've accrued enough to earn a few bucks when I'm old enough to collect in a few years. If I don't die first. So there is no government handout there. That's my money that's been saved and invested and if I live to be 80 the social security bank will probably still win on betting on my lifespan.
Add to that the millions and millions of illegals who pay social security on fake cards on which they can never collect and the social security bank ought to be worth trillions more than will ever be needed to pay back the workers who paid into it.
But to cut back on the payroll tax to fund it, in my view, really just gives ammunition to those who want it privatized. They'll point to the new tax cut as a reason it's not sustainable. They'll be lying, of course, but a gullible American public will buy into the lie.
And to have my president, my Obama, walking into that obvious trap, signals to me that he's a deer in the headlights. Too frightened to move. And I am disappointed in him for that. For tossing my money to the wolves. I thought he was a ball player who played in city parks in New York and Chicago. Evidently not. Because if he had, there would be a lot more people walking on crutches in the Senate right now. If you can't win, the least you can do is submarine people so they know you were at least serious about playing.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

So Today I Got Asked a Crazy Question

Okay, so today I got asked a crazy question. Someone I know is a publisher in Canada. The cost of shipping a magazine across the border is higher than you can charge for the magazine, so while cross-border subscriptions look good on paper, they lose money except for advertising revenue.
Anyway, when this publisher started publishing and told me about that, I suggested he rent an apartment in the company's name on the US side of the border, and then once a month have an employee drive the US destined magazines over the border into the US and mail them using the company's US address. Seemed pretty straightforward to me--though I also suggested he contact a lawyer to make sure it was legal and all that jazz.
So I guess he did that. Or thought he did. Until today, when he called and said he needed a little favor. He said he was paying a courier to make the cross border trip once a week, but that with handling fees and courier fees he wasn't really saving anything. And worse, when magazines were returned for wrong addresses or such, the courier always sends them back to Canada, costing even more.
So he asked if he could use my address. Just for the returns. Then I'd go through them and email him and tell them what the postal service had written about why they were returned--"no such address"; "Person moved" or what not.
I said, "Just for the one magazine?"
He paused. "No. I got to be upfront with you. We also have a line of porno mags. We have 43 titles, then we have porno books and videos. Straight, gay, fetish, you name it...That would come to you as well..."
My turn to pause. "You know I'm not necessarily liked in my town. I mean, I've gotten some people reprimanded, some people fired for corruption, that sort of thing. And I'm thinking that if my home became the place where your porno came, we'll if I'm not under the microscope yet, I probably would be pretty quickly."
He said he understood and that was that.
He hung up and I had to laugh. I can just see me trying to explain away box loads of heavy fetish porn to the local gendarmerie while I have Madeleina and Chepa's babies here half the time. That would go over real big, eh? Probably about 400 years in the pen worth of big.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Yeah, Well, While You All Were Living....

Yeah, well, while you all were living, so were we. Marco, Madeleina and I hit Manhattan on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Hated giving up the left over turkey and a bunch of the other stuff, but kept the stuffing and gravy and had it for breakfast this morning. Man, you should have been at my house for breakfast! Wow! That was good. And I might just have it again tomorrow morning at about 10 AM, which is about five hours after I wake up. First though, I'll have my dark coffee/dark decaf mix. Maybe three cups while I read several newspapers. Then I'll go rake the front lawn--the hell with the others--and then I'll be in the mood for that rich rich stuffing with that turkey dripping gravy.....If you got time, be here. You won't be sorry.
As for New York, well, we saw the whole family, and I mean my four sister, my brother, and all their spouses and kids and grandkids. And we had hot dogs at Papaya King on 86th and 3rd Ave. And we had Pizza at Arturo's on 85th and 3rd, and then at Joe's in the Village. And we had sushi and we had real New York Chinese food, and we had fresh bagels with a shmear twice! HA!
And then we walked five miles daily, through Central Park, past the Alice in Wonderland statue to the zoo, to FAO Schwartz, to the American Museum of Natural History, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Everywhere we could. Madeleina saw a real Broadway show, Phantom of the Opera, one of her favorites, and got a red-haired wig that looks freaking awesome. And Marco got to revisit playgrounds he used as a kid and climb rocks he used to think were so very hard to climb but now were easy.
And I spoke at Webster Hall in front of 400 and sold some books and think i acquitted myself well, talking about ayahuasca and then working the room. And I kissed an old friend and she liked it.
So New York was just as perfect as it always is. What a town! Every five minutes you see 300 different types of people, and almost none of them fat. They just walk too much to be grossly overweight. Not like here in Joshua where one out of four people at Walmart uses an electric cart because they weight 300-500 pounds. And I'm fat so I'm not pointing fingers, but if I lived back in NYC I'd lose 20 in a month just walking up and down subway stairs or climbing tenement stairways.
Anyway, it was grand. It was perfect. I know you all rooted for us and thank you for that. You made it come true/through. And Madeleina and Marco and even I got to have some closure on the city we loved but left too quickly and for the wrong reasons. That was important. And it was important that they kids--as well as I--got to see the family, got to remember that we are part of something large, mostly Irish, and wonderful. There is some Latin, a little German, some Italian, a bit of Austrian mixed in, and on my kid's side--and probably on the Irish side as well--a bit of Black too. So it's a good mix. And one smile from any of them is worth a novel from most other people.
And I got closure too. It was too long I was away from home. And I don't mind being where I am. And I never worked better than I do now. And I love my little broken house and my yard and my animals and all that. But New York is home and my family is home and while grown up men go where they are needed, there is still a soft spot for the family you grew up with. And they hit it this last week. Like darts.
It was a grand few days.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Well, Alright. It's Thanksgiving!

Well, it's Thanksgiving. Already, if you can believe it. Whoosh! and another year zips by. Tomorrow I head out to New York City, hometown, to see the family and reintroduce Marco and Madeleina to all the wonders: good street hotdogs, the American Museum of Natural History, FAO Schwartz toy store, the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center, the lobby of the Plaza Hotel, Central Park, our old building, Chinatown and on and on. My sister Reg will take Madeleina and Marco to a Broadway show and Madeleina to get a manicure/pedicure. We'll have a big family dinner on Sunday and they'll come to hear me talk at Webster Hall on Tuesday. We'll bump into old friends, make a couple of new ones. Have not checked the weather but Madeleina and Marco are definitely hoping it snows at least a little.
So I'm getting juiced up about it. It's gonna be really fast but that's okay. Eight years has been a long time to be away from New York. I've adjusted to Texas well, I think, and I love my work and our little house here, but damn, it ain't the city. No handball courts here. And no bike riding because there are no shoulders to speak of on the country roads around here and the speed limit is 60 mph on every two-lane blacktop. I always loved riding in the city. I was careful but carefree. Just look at the drivers I was coming up on to see if they were going to make a move on the wheel--hands get tense and they turn their heads before the move is made. So I found riding there fantastic. Not here.
The day is a bit strange. My wife/ex-wife Chepa's boyfriend decided to come in at the last minute to be with her and their two babies. So that group is at her house. Italo's Sara went to see her grandparents in Oklahoma and took little Taylor Rain with her, so she's up there. Italo, Marco and Madeleina are over here for turkey. We've never been this discombobulated for Thanksgiving before. It's okay, but a bit strange. I'll make sure the gang goes to visit Chepa later today so she doesn't feel forgotten about by them.
Of course, her having to cook a turkey has already produced at least a moment of hilarity when she called me to ask how to do it and what she needed to do to make stuffing and what else to serve with it. She'd bought the turkey but nothing else--it's not a traditional Peruvian dish so it's something I always made and she's clueless on it. So she's on the phone asking questions about the meal she's gonna make for her boyfriend. Ah, well. I wound up sending Marco over to her house with a couple of onions, a head of celery, stuffing, chicken stock, cranberry sauce and peas. She'll probably send him back for some potatoes, yams and a stick of butter.
There is lots to be thankful for this year. More than you want to hear. The kids are healthy and my granddaughter Taylor Rain arrived. The flesh eating staph infection in my legs didn't cost me my legs. My cars are running. My book came out and some people are actually buying it. Madeleina is playing Moondance on her flute. I'm going to see my family. I wrote great stories and won great awards. My mortgage managed to get paid every month. I had two great groups of people out in the jungle with me and had Madeleina along as well. Boots the wonderdog got his ears fixed and isn't crying anymore. I lost a few pounds. Now, if I could just end wars, prejudice, unfairness, the war on drugs, sickness, hatred, greed, sloth, and the rest of it, now that would be a really really really good year. So I failed a lot, I guess. But I'm still happy that things weren't worse.
And for you all? I hope you're near people you love and if you are that you remember to tell them and hug them and hold them tight, okay?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christmas Shopping, The Book

Well, in all selfishness, a friend of mine just ordered three copies of my Ayahuasca in My Blood from me that he plans to give out to friends as Christmas presents. Cool. He suggested I pass the word that they might make good presents. I think I've already suggested you all--or demanded that you all--purchase lots of books for Christmas. But here is the thing: If you order them from my website,, and pay via Paypal--Just use my site link or my email address--I can sign them to whomever you want and then send them out gift wrapped if you like. Madeleina will get a cut for gift wrapping them and getting them addressed and such. Just an idea.
Hope you're all having a wonderful late November day.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

New York City Next Friday!

Okay, well, come next Friday I am off to New York with Madeleina and Marco, two of my kids, for 5 days. We'll see family and friends we have not seen for 8 years and then on Tuesday, Nov. 30, I'll get to speak at the Ayahuasca Monologues at Webster Hall at 125 E 11th street. We'll be in the big room, which has been used by the Rolling Stones, among others, and I'm told to expect 300 plus people there. So I'm psyched. Get to talk about my book and my trips and all that jazz.
On the other hand, I dreamt that I was there last night and when I got ready to speak someone started hammering behind me. So I waited till they stopped. Then I started to speak and a band with two base fiddles began to play and then stepped in front of me.
So I went to the organizer and asked when I was going to actually get to speak. He told me not to take it so hard that I'd caused a massive exit of people from the hall but that I was just too boring. And no, I wasn't going to get another chance to speak.
I hope it goes better in the live version.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Just a Quickie

So it's Friday evening and I'm cooking dinner. Last night we had thick pork chops sliced open to make a pocket that I decided to stuff with roast pecans sauteed in garlic and olive oil, then mixed with swiss cheese. Topped with nice gravy. Madeleina wouldn't have any of it. "Just take the stuffing out of I will be throwing up all over you," she said.
"Why? This is great stuff!"
"You might get away with that in New York, but not in my stomach."
Ah, well.
Italo came over today, had one of the chops and demanded to know why I didn't make them like that when he was growing up.
"Because you would have acted like Madeleina. You would have thought it too grown up and refused it. Like you refused a lot of stuff."
"Like what?"
"Like lamb vindaloo, like roast duck, like stuffed zuccini, like most fish, like calamari, like....."
"I get your point. But I would have loved this and now you cheated me out of 25 years of this and I'm gonna tell you that I resent it."
"Sure, buddy. If you really mean that, look in the back of the fridge. I think there are some eggplant stuffed shells you refused to eat just last year...."
"Oh, really? You think that's touche? That's nothing. Give me another pork chop and we'll talk."
Then this evening Madeleina announced that I'm a bad grandpa.
"Remember that time you picked up Taylor Rain and she was holding onto the chair and you picked her up and the picked up the chair? We were all screaming at you to stop..."
"Well she was bonding with the chair. Who was I to put a stop to that?"
"Right. Wrong. Don't even go there dad. I'm bleeding and that makes me right."
"No, it makes you invincible but not right."
"Look. All I'm saying is that you lean over the baby. Too much. And I don't care if you can't take criticism. I'm in the mood to give it. And if you don't like it I guess I'll just kill you while you sleep to put the rest of us out of our misery."
"You don't think that's going a little far on the hyperbole scale?"
"Whatever, old man. Just remember, you're getting slow and I'm getting faster every day. Won't be long..."
"Thanks for the notice, girl."
"It's only fair, dad. After all, you're the one who made me who I am..."
"Well, I'm a prey sort of way..."

Friday, November 12, 2010

Madeleina for the Millionth Time, but Never Enough

How many times have I written about my beautiful Madeleina on this blog. A hundred? It may seem like a lot to you all but it's never enough for me, given who she is.
Lately she's been crabbing about not wanting to go to school, about how all the kids there are too dumb to talk with, too narrow minded to hang around with, or just too boring. I think that just means she has no friends this year and hates that. So I'm trying to encourage her to see some good spots. I recognize that most of her peers have not had the upbringing she has. I also recognize that she really is smarter than most of those kids, and more well read, and more well traveled and all that. But, I remind her, there must be someone who's as clever as she, or someone who, like her, makes up songs. There must be someone who's funny.
Well, I'm sure there are, and I've put it to her to find that interesting trait that will make someone appeal to her so that she's got a lunch buddy or someone to hang with after school if I'm late. Not that she helps with the outlandish outfits she wears. Yesterday she wore a children's sheet that Chepa had made into a long halloween skirt, striped socks, and a blouse I never saw because it was covered with another skirt that she put over her head and let drape on her shoulders.
"I look fabulous, don't I?" she asked.
She looked ridiculous, but I told her she looked great. But that she should look in the mirror just to double check her choices.
"Dad, those kids are so dumb they won't even notice that I'm dressed like an insane old lady who has two skirts on."
"Darling, they might very well notice and then stay away, the way people tend to stay away from crazy old ladies."
She wore the get up anyway and came home complaining that she hated school because the kids are so dumb.
I let her rant.
This morning she came in to the office and lay down on the couch at 4:45 AM. I was up early and it was beautiful to have her sleeping just behind me.
At 7 on the dot she got up, stood in the middle of the room and announced, "I hate school. School is for losers..." and then she pointed a finger at me. "Losers like you."
And then she went off to get dressed.
When she came out she announced that the funny people at school weren't really funny, they just wanted attention. And the smart kids were smart, maybe smarter than her, but all they talk about were things she finds boring, like television shows and junk.
"What I want is to go to a school where people talk about being spies. I want to be a spy. I want a hook I can throw on top of a building and then climb up a rope attached to it. And I want to be a singer. A famous singer and secretly a spy. But then everyone would be jealous, wouldn't they? And they'd try to kill me. Assassination on stage, during a brilliant performance. Oh, god, why? Why do I have to die?"
There's just not many places a conversation can go after that. So I went off to make her a tuna sandwich while she practiced her dying swoon.

Another Ayahuasca Post

When I posted my last piece on ayahuasca, a friend who read it wrote to ask if ayahuasca was used to clean up the "kinks" in people's lives. I think it's more than that, much more profound than that. So here's what I wrote her in response.

The ayahuasca cleans you out physically, but only in that it eliminates parasites and worms and such--very common ailments in a place where sun-dried fish might get wet in a shower, then dried a second time, then wet again, then dried again---a hotbed for icky stomach stuff.
But ayahuasca primarily cleans out your emotional closet. It can make you relive the bad stuff you've done--I know you haven't done any bad stuff, but a lot of people have been petty, or lied to their girl/boy friends at some time. And it sometimes makes you relive those moments a hundred times--and then lets you eliminate them. And you also get to eliminate the angers and resentments you carry around, even if you're not aware of carrying them around. You just see them, deal with them, and then let them go.
Part of the way I think that's accomplished is because ayahuasca also lets you glimpse into the spirit of things: of trees, of the sun, of rocks, of a mosquito--lets you really glimpse the enormity of the whole damned shebang, or at least a much bigger slice than we normally get to see. And in that enormity, when we suddenly remember a former friend who we resent because they did something bad to us, well, it's so small in comparison to the really really big picture we're seeing at the same time that we no longer feel we have room to keep that resentment in our hearts, or those hurts in our soul. So we let them go.
Do people think it's for working out kinks in their lives? I don't know. Most of the people I deal with have never done it before but have an inkling that the world is as big as it is in their dreams and want to see that while waking. They, my clients, are also generally people in a crisis, whether they know it or not. People whose marriages are breaking up and they don't know why sometimes get to see that They are the problem and glimpse a way to fix themselves that might in turn fix their marriage. Others are at an age where they wonder if there is any meaning to living any more after the kids are gone and such. Others just want to see if there is a big picture at all.
Ayahuasca can be the key that opens those doors. Of course, the people have to make the changes themselves. Being shown alternatives doesn't just make your life better. It just means you see that you have choices where you didn't see them previously.
And for some people, like one fellow coming on my Feb trip who has already been with me, well, he just wants more of the kind of learning he was given by the medicine. He feels there is more to get. He was a big hunter and after the trip with me found he couldn't hunt anymore. Just lost his taste for taking a life once he saw, really saw and felt, the value of life. He's already an emergency room doctor, so he already valued life but didn't understand that the deer he was killing for food and sport were as vital to the whole skein of things as he did once he had the medicine.
So it's bigger than "kinks". It's really about affirming the hugeness and brilliance of the whole universe in everything that makes that up. It's about learning how small and petty we are, but at the same time how vital we are to that universe. It's about being allowed to see, or glimpse, the living spirit in everything. And something like that doesn't just work out kinks, it resets your soul.
At least that's what I think.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Shamanism and its Possible Effects on the World

A friend of mine recently posed four questions regarding shamanism. They're not really my style of question, so they made me think a little. Well, I read over the questions and answers today and think they're okay. Not brilliant, but worth a read if you've a few minutes. So here are the questions, with my answers below.

1) What impact on the world do you envision with this renewed interest in Shamanisitc/Toltec knowledge?

2) What results have practitioners seen in their lives through the practice of energy work, and Toltec/Shamanistic knowledge?

3) How do you feel about the blending of the indigenous world, and the world of modern man?

4) What do you see as the role of Toltec/Shamanistic knowledge and practice in the future?

1) Impact on the world is a big phrase. Yet not unattainable, as we've seen with the movements personified by Ghandi, Martin Luther King, and Rachel Carson, as well as the movement toward (nearly) worldwide abolition of slavery, the women's rights movement, the gay rights' movement to name a few. In all of those movements, there were cathartic moments and catalytic personalities. The moments seized the attention of huge groups; the personalities were able to understand that someone needed to step to the fore and declare that those moments would become movements and not remain isolated events.
When we think about shamanism in the 21st century, we can see that there has been a build up of interest from the west in ancient traditions that can be traced, most logically, to the earliest work of Carlos Casteneda. But Casteneda never assumed the mantle of public leader of a shamanic movement. Nonetheless, interest in shamanic tradition has grown considerably during the 40 years since Don Juan Mateus was introduced to the Western world, and is getting close to a small but critical mass. Within the next few years there will be an opening for someone with the right credentials, courage, conviction and charisma to step to the fore and bring shamanism out of the shadows and into mainstream awareness. Tim Leary did it with mushrooms and then LSD, but his appearance was early and he was both marginalized and criminalized. The time is certainly more ripe today because of the number of people who have been introduced to shamanism since Leary's era.
What will their message be? If it were me it would be one of sharing the knowledge that there is life in everything. Which means intent, will, desire, memory. But that's easier to say than impart. But to me that is the central tenet of shamanism: Awareness that everything is sentient. More than that, that the sentience can be communicated with by broadening the bandwidths of our senses. For many of us, that's required the use of sacred plant medicine, and there is little liklihood of getting the whole world to utilize those medicines. But someone who knew how to impart that knowledge, someone who was a consummate shaman, could really bring that awareness to fruition, well, I think we humans would completely alter the way we interact with not just each other but with everything we come in contact with.
What change would that have on the world? It would be unimaginable. Just think of the flowers in your home and how they grow in a positive atmosphere, as opposed to flowers growing in negative spaces. Now imagine everything in the world reacting to that positive energy. And awareness of the sentience of everything almost automatically produces interaction, positive interaction with those things.
A lot of us already try to "grow the world" and "grow with the world", and there have been positive changes from that work. But we are all still moments. We need to make it a movement to have a lasting and powerful, and powerfully positive, impact on the planet.

2) What impact has shamanic work had on the lives of its practitioners? I can't speak for others, and when I speak for myself it should be noted that I'm probably the worst student of all time. That said, simple awareness of the life in everything has had an enormous impact on my life. There is a level of communication with things normally considered inanimate that is just fantastic.
For instance, my trucks love me being proud of them. I've one truck that has a short that keeps the "check engine" light on. It's been on since I bought it in 2006. Which means I can't pass my annual inspection. So when I go for the inspection, I fail. And then the truck and I have a talk and I explain that it won't be able to be a truck and do truck things if it doesn't let me pass that inspection. So I ask it to please shut the light off at some point during the 30-day grace period a failed-inspection gives you to repair the vehicle.
And my truck, understanding that it wants to be a truck, and not a lawn ornament, has always responded by shutting the "check engine" light off within a couple of days of the failed inspection, just long enough to pass inspection, at which point, generally while I am driving away from the inspection station, the light comes back on and stays on for another year.
But in the course of a day there are probably a dozen things attributable to shamanic practice that occur. Parking spaces that open up at the right second, freelance work that appears out of the blue at exactly the right time, things like that. Now, the other side of the coin is that you can't be asking for things that benefit you directly. I can't ask to sell a million copies of my book, or for the spirits to bring the perfect woman into my life. Those are selfish things and shamanism and selfishness do not mix well. Other than the car insepction, of course.
On other levels, the practice, however imperfect, has helped allowed me to make the best of a bad family breakup and turn it into a wonderfully positive experience for all involved. Not perfect, but still full of a whole lot more love than anger and resentment. And I don't think I could have helped make that come about without that shamanic practice.

3) Blending the indigenous shamanic world with out modern world? I think there are pitfalls. I think there are problems when westerners raise simple healers to the position of guru. I have never met a real curandero, a real shaman, who thought they were anything more than doctors who worked with spirit helpers and the spirits of plants and other things to effect healing on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual issues affecting their patients. So telling them they are amazing beings for being able to make it rain, or to stop raining, for instance, can confuse them, can throw them off balance. Add to that relatively enormous sums that westerners pay to use those curandero's medicines or to study plant medicine with them, and you can really throw off the balance of a healer's life. And you can throw off the balance of whole communities which have always depended on that fisherman/curandero who might no longer have time to tend to their needs now that he or she is in such demand by westerners.
There is also the positive: when westerners show respect and are willing to pay real money for the work of a local healer, that generates interest in learning to heal within that community. Many healers now have several apprentices where just five years ago they had none.
Next, there is also the negative of westerners coming back from indigenous or mestizo areas of Central and South America thinking they have shamanic knowledge and trying to pass it on when they have learned nothing, and so have nothing to pass along to their students.
On the other hand, I think there are enough honest western students working with shaman in Central and South America--people who are also aware of their impact on the communities with which they work--that I hope and trust that the wheat will separate from the chaff.
There really is no going back. I was certainly one of the first to talk about ayahuasca use in Peru--not the first, but the first who wrote an accessible article in a national magazine (High TImes, June 1986, I think) about ayahuasca, and I've had to live with whether that was a good or bad thing ever since. How it turns out, well, we'll see. I hope it turns out positively for most involved.

4) The role of shamanic knowledge in the future? That's not something I've ever spent time on. I think that once a person is aware of the life in everything, they can begin to access the spirit of everything. And once they can do that they can interact with those spirits. I'm talking about the spirit of the creek, the bricks in your house, the hundreds of spirits roaming your kitchen. This universe is full full full of life and life force. The roll of shamanic knowledge for us westerners introduced to those spirits is to spread that knowledge, make communication easier. And if we can do that--a big task, no doubt--then the way people interact with the world and the spirits of the world and universe will change, automatically, from one of dominance to one of cooperation. And when we, mankind, begin interacting with the world, rather than trying to dominate it, well, I think mankind will be better off. The world and its spirits don't really care if we do, for the most part. Trees will be here long after we're gone, and so will stones and bricks and clouds and the moon. So it's really up to us to take an interest if we are to make the friendship of those spirits. And thus far, for most of us throughout mankind's short history on this planet, that effort has not been made. Which has left us losing out on so much we might have learned. Who knows what we have missed simply by not asking a plant what benefit it might have for mankind, rather than saying "tree, chop it and burn it for fire."
I think the universe has all the secrets of the universe. And our arrogance in trying to continually conquer the universe rather than communicate with it, has kept us from being taught those secrets. And how delicious they might be!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hello, Hello

I gave Madeleina the day off today. It's only her second of the year and I figure she's entitled to one every six week period, her call. She had band stuff the last two nights, coming home at about 8:30 each night, then doing homework, sort of. Yesterday she went to school exhausted, but today she was just not thinking clearly. She talked for an hour from 7 AM till 8 AM and didn't speak a single coherent sentence.
"Dad, you know what the science experiment was yesterday? Fantastic......Oh, I can't remember....your fault!" Whack! Whack! Whack!
"Okay, now I remember....oh, I hate you...did you feed the goats?"
That sort of thing. So she stayed home and slept till 1 PM.
Then she did homework, tended the animals, came with me to Walmart, to Two Bucks, read a book, sang songs. And she's just come in singing the Beatles' Hello Hello, Goodbye Goodbye, or whatever the official title was. I was smoking good pot back then so beg your forgiveness on song titles.
"Dad, I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello. Hello? HELLO? Hello starts with HELL. So that means HELL TO YOU! With an "O" on the end to soften it up but still "HELL!"
"I don't think that's what they had in mind, girl...."
"They were smoking dope! They have no idea what was on their mind! Just stop saying Goodbye when I say HELLO, okay?!!!!!"
You pause, you look at her, you laugh, you get Whacked! a few times. You keep grinning. She's gonna break some hearts and some balls some day. I'm just the practice punching bag.
But if she finds a good man--or woman or dog or whatever/whomever she decides to shine her love on--who knows how to roll with those punches and laugh with her insane brilliance, well, they will have found a good one. I'm just sorry that when she does, I will lose some of this spirit in my life to someone else. And I'm spoiled and want it all. It's like having a paint colt living in the house and charging through the rooms now and then, full speed. Just get out of the way and admire the damned thing.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sapo with Marco

Well, Marco came over for his medicine today at noon. Sapo medicine. It's the stuff the Matses shared with me 24 years ago and the medicine I've since shared with the world--not literally, but through writing about it. It's the medicine that is collected from the Phyllomedusa Bicolor tree frog--it's natural protective secretions--that turned out to be bioactive when studied. I don't just mean a little bioactive, I mean 100 percent bioactive, which means the 144 or so proteins thus far discovered in those secretions interact with the human body as if the body created them because all of the proteins fit neatly and perfectly into human receptor sites.
In the animal kingdom, the way it works is this: A tree snake, most of which are non-venemous constrictors in the Amazon, decides to eat the bright green frog with the white underbelly. It takes the frog into its mouth. The frog freaks and gives off these secretions. The secretions enter the snake's blood through the mucous membrane in its mouth. The snake freezes, the frog backs out and escapes. Of course, if the frog is a split second late, or has utilized those secretions a couple of days earlier and not fully replenished them as yet, well....goodbye little froggie.
Now what the Matses/Mayoruna do is collect and dry those secretions, that frog sweat so to speak, on pieces of split bamboo that look like tongue depressors. When they want to use it they liquify a little by spitting on the dried varnishy-looking stuff and then scrape a little of the material into the spit until it's good and moist, like wasabi more or less.
Then they take a little piece of tamishi, a jungle vine, and heat it till its trip is bright red, and make a burn, generally in the upper arm, of the person to receive the medicine. They might repeat that several times, each time reheating the tamishi to red hot. Then the burned epidermous is scraped off, exposing the capillaries beneath it and the frog sweat is put on the open wound. It quickly makes its way into the blood stream. As it does, your body heats up, you start to sweat, your heart begins to race, your skin jumps out of itself, you wonder why the hell you did this in the first place and you wish you could die. That all happens in the first 15 seconds after application. From there it gets worse, speeding up and speeding up until you are incoherent and probably rolling on the floor and praying for someone to put you out of your misery.
At the 9 minute mark you peak. You're going just as fast, you hurt just as much, but you don't go any faster. That's when you realize you're going to puke and maybe poop yourself. And then you do. You clean out like nothing in this world. No emetic can do this job.
At about 14 minutes you realize you're not going to die and you find yourself cursing the person who gave you the medicine, screaming, or just laughing at being alive.
And then you're tired. And then you realize--maybe in an hour, maybe in three hours if you don't have experience--that you are cleaner and stronger than you have ever been. You see and hear better than you have ever seen or heard. And that will last days to weeks, depending on your subsequent diet and such. And that's why people utilize the medicine. Because it cleans them up, eliminates toxins stored in the body, in the pores, in the blood stream, in the kidney and liver, in your glands.
I won't go into the various Matses uses--you can look that up by looking up an old Omni article of mine called Making Magic. But for my family, it's used when people have bad colds, just ache, have no strength.
Marco was over because he's just been under the weather for a few days. And I had just the medicine for him. I recently was given a stick of sapo collected by my old friend Alberto, the Matses man who used to share a camp on the Galvez river with my friend and medicine teacher Pablo. I knew that stick would be something else. Pablo, who died recently, and Alberto were antiguas, Matses who did things the old way. Which meant they understood that you don't collect a lot of sweat from any given frog. You just collect the most potent first secretions before you set the frog free. Which means it takes a lot more frogs to get a good stick full, but it also means you have the best of the best.
And I actually got two sticks from Alberto.
So Marco, who is used to having four burns worth, was surprised when I told him I'd only give him two.
"Why dad?"
"Because this came from Alberto, an antigua. This is the shit's shit. Not 10 people in the world collect like he does. This is just going to be stronger than anything you've ever had by far.
He challenged me but I held my space and gave him two, then began to chant a little to give him a lifeline to cling to as he fell into the difficult work.
And difficult it was. He cursed and screamed until, at about 4 minutes into it, he couldn't even do that. All he could do was suffer. Inside, I hated to see him suffer like that but jungle medicines are harsh, just like the environment. And since it's all bioactive material, his body would know when to shut down the receptor sites, so he wasn't going to die or anything, but it still hurts to see your kid in the most excruciating pain he's ever been in.
At about 10 minutes he began to puke. And kept puking till bright orange bile came up. His eyes were rolling around in his head, his body was flailing pretty uncontrollably.
At 14 minutes he shouted: "I hate you, dad! That was the worst thing I have ever been through!"
At about 19 minutes he sat up and started laughing. "Man, that was strong. I feel like I'm beat to hell. But wow. That was fantastic! I almost want to do more right now."
At 30 minutes I drove him home. And now, two hours later, he's called to say he's never been stronger.
That's the part I like to hear.
And he'll repeat that for two, three days.
And he's clean from the inside out. No disease will dare touch him for weeks, maybe months. Which is good because if you remember he's my son whose kidneys inexplicably failed and became nefrotic when he was just seven, and so I like to keep them clean.
Worth the pain. I love keeping him whole.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Today I Saw All the Kids

Today I saw all the kids. Madeleina had to get up early so we could go to my wife/ex-wife's house to borrow black pants she needed for a band dedication tonight--from which I'm picking her up in five minutes, so this will be short. So she got up at about 6 AM and we had water on four big pots on the stove that was hot enough for a shower. One of these days Italo will have a few minutes and help me change out the fuse box--I need him so that if I get electrocuted he can knock me off the electricity before I die--but until then we shower in cold water. Which is freezing early in the morning.
So Madeleina took her shower with a blue plastic cup and stayed in there for 45 minutes. Then came out announcing--read screaming--"Dad, let's go! We're late!"
"Baby, you've got a towel wrapped around you. We're not going anywhere till you get dressed...."
"Hate you, dad. I mean, I love you, but I hate you. Can you make me coffee in the champagne glass?"
I did and she got ready lickity-split and off we went to mom's to borrow the pants. And Alexa and Sierra got up to greet us, and then Sara came in from her end of the very nicely done trailer and she had Taylor Rain with her so I got to kiss my granddaughter as well.
Home, I began working on what will probably be my next book: Being Dad--The Gorman Blog Dad Book of Raising Kids Far From Both Your Home and Theirs in Bucolic Joshua, Texas. Just the blog stuff you have all read but NOT NEARLY DEEP ENOUGH!!!!
So i think I will put it in a book and that way you can kill a few more trees with me to try to earn me next month's mortgage.
And then Italo came over to check into the broken toilet thing. He owed me $200 and brought half of that. I forgave the other half based on him just being a good guy. He was happy but wished I gave the hundred back as well. HA!
And then Marco came over to ask about marijuana and receptor sites and I told him so much more than he wanted to hear that he begged for sapo, frog sweat. We made a date for noon tomorrow to do that severe but fantastic medicine.
And now, at 7:10, I've got Boots' chicken in the oven, the kitty's chicken cooling down, Madeleina's rice on a low flame, and swordfish ready to go. We'll have it with garlic, onions, scallions, ginger, tomatoes and red pepper, all finely diced, in the juice of capers. Nice bite to that.
So I'm going to pick up Madeleina and that's it for the night other than feeding animals and eating.
I hope you're having a nice night too and if you have kids, I hope you got a chance to hug every one of them today. Because nothing feels better than that.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Another Couple of Things...

So here's a couple of things. First off, this morning Madeleina and I had thin slices of that fantastic sourdough bread covered in good cheddar and put into the oven till the cheese was melting. And we h ad it with very very thin slices of left over corned beef that we had with cabbage and boiled potatoes last night.
Jealous, aren't you. I would be too.
Want more? After we both did some exercise, we each had three little squares of the Ghiradelli 72% cacao dark chocolate that my friend C sent from San Fran the other day. Same day we got her sourdough.
Tonight? Last of the corned beef and cabbage with no potatoes. And the corned beef will be very well trimmed. Got to cut back somewhere.
So that's one thing.
Then a reporter from Newsweek got in touch to talk about my trips. I have no idea whether what I wrote him will interest him in actually coming along, but without ego, I cannot imagine going on anyone's trip except mine, at least the first time in the jungle. I mean, just to learn who the river people are, how riverboats work, where the medicine comes from, how it's utilized by locals and so forth. All the rest is just gringo stuff and I just don't do that trip. Even though I'm getting old and fat and all that jazz. It's worth the effort to change my guests' lives. And when I can't do that, when I need a camp an hour out of Iquitos, well, then I won't take people out anymore. Cause that's not how I was taught and so that's not how I'm gonna teach.
Next: The damned six-cent gaskets in the toilet, the one's that work with the bolts that attach the tank to the toilet bowl, have been giving out and the subsequent leak has been causing the toilet to sink a little as the wooden frame in the house's undercarriage has been getting soaked.
Solution: Turn off the toilet completely. Put a bucket under the drip in the nearby shower. Collect the shower water leak and use to flush the toilet.
Okay, I know I can't keep going like that because it's not considered civilized, but until I can get those damned bolts--I've put in enough DW 40 to take the Intrepid apart!--loose, I'm sort of stuck.
So today's lesson: If you have good sourdough, put it in the oven and eat it with melted cheddar. If you have left over corned beef, add that to the mix. And if your shower is dripping and your toilet is leaking, use one to fix the other.
Have a great night, everybody.

Friday, October 22, 2010

One of Those Pretty Cool Days

Well, it's been one of those pretty cool days, especially if you include yesterday. And a bit selfish on my part, to be honest. I mean, after I wrote about going to New York with Madeleina and was weighing things in public, a blog reader and friend sent $100 to help with the trip. Another friend sent $300. Out of the blue. I need it and it will help, so I'm taking it, but I'm almost guilty while doing it because it was unexpected and not something I meant to be suggesting.
Shut up, Gorman, just take the freaking love.
And then yesterday, another friend send long lost photos of Madeleina and her sisters, of Chepa and me and the dog, Boots, and Goatguy and another dog long since buried in the animal patch out back. But the pics are beautiful and it was fantastic to get them showing up, again unexpectedly.
And then this morning, one person who was due on my trip last June--but who couldn't make it at the last minute--sent a deposit for this January's trip. He'd said he was but I wasn't sure he meant it. So that was unexpected and fantastic.
And then a UPS truck rolled in with three bars of cacao rich Ghiradelli chocolate and a book from CityLights in San Francisco, where she was working last week. She is the new editor in chief of Archaeology magazine and she has instantly improved it with gorgeous color, clean lines, great layouts and solid writing. So check it out. The top cover line is "The Origins of Chocolate".
Not that I need the chocolate--hell, I already don't have the figure to absorb it and will be rolling down the road if I eat it, but still, take the love, Gorman.
And then another UPS truck rolled in and this one had presents for Madeleina and Taylor Rain, my granddaughter from my sister Regina.
And then a FedEx truck rolled up and brought a huge box of sourdough bread from San Francisco.
I am slightly overwhelmed at this point.
Thank you all for all the love.
I'm taking it.
I'm beaming.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fast Fast Fast

I was listening to the old Simon and Garfunkle song, Hazy Day of Winter, I think is the name. It's being done now by a rock band very quickly and sort of staccato but it's great. Sort of like the new version of Mrs. Robinson on radio stations, and might even be the same band. Captivating beats in both of them.
"Time time time, see what's become of me,
While I looked around for my possibilities..."
I would give you more but I can't remember the exact words and that's an indication that time is catching up with me while I'm still looking for my possibilities, eh?
Time does fly. My oldest, Italo, turns 25 tomorrow. 25. Not like 14 or 12, but 25. I remember meeting him for the very first time when he was just seven years old. He was playing soccer with the older kids. He was just so advanced. And then I married his ma and brought him to the US and New York City and put him in a baseball league on Roosevelt Island and we'd ride our bicycles up from 90th and 3rd Ave through Harlem's east side to the Roosevelt Avenue bridge and then across that woeful structure and past the crazy house there and under the enormous train tressels (spelling?????) there and on to the ball fields. And the first few games nobody knew what to make of this Amazon Indian kid who couldn't speak English and didn't know what baseball was. So they put him in right field, where all the bad players go in little league. The thing was, he'd chase down balls and look at me and I'd tell him what to do with it and they quickly learned they had an athlete on their hands.
In his second year in the league, the coach, Bobby Hoffman, a great baseball man, took his kid off shortstop and put Italo in there. He was a human vacuum. One of the few people in the world who could dive in one direction---say toward second base--stab the ball, then twist and land on his feet with his body pointed toward third base. Jose Oquendo with the Mets could do that. Luis Aparacio from my childhood could do that. Not many others. That's a cat move, not a human move.
Italo's teams won championships for several years, or came darned close. By the time he was 13 they'd have him catching and then put him in as a relief pitcher.
But soccer was his love and he still plays it. The baby he had eight months ago has crimped his style and so he's not playing semi-pro arena league this year, which I wish he would. But he's still playing in a couple of local leagues. He's finishing up his associates degree--I sort of insisted he do that just to be able to get a coaching job if he wanted it, or to teach phy ed in high school around here. He's working. He's being a good dad. I'm proud of him.
And he's turning 25 in about 12 hours.
And that just means time is moving too fast. I would have liked another couple of years at each year with him, know what I mean? I mean, I never got tired of being with him, watching him grow, getting strong, working out. I never wished the time would pass. It did anyway.
Happy birthday, kiddo. Your daddy loves you more than you can imagine.
Hope this is your best year ever.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Okay, Gonna Go to NYC

Okay, in answer to myself in the last post, I've decided to go and the hell with the costs. I've got family who need me for a few days, I've got friends and a couple of handball courts I have not seen in eight years, and I've got a daughter who hasn't seen the city is longer than that. Plus, I'm gonna get to talk about my book to an audience that is interested in that sort of thing, and I might sell a trip or three to Peru and a handful of books.
I've written the fellow who put out the invite and think it's important that I do this. And to hell with the cost factor. It will either cover itself or not but it ain't gonna break me either way. The guardians will help see to that, I'll bet.
So that's that. Done deal. Thanks all for listening. Sorry I did my worrying out loud, but I do appreciate your input.
Now let's get back to finishing another story.
Have a great day, everybody.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Here's the deal then...

Okay, here's the deal. I've just been invited to talk about my work and my book in New York City at Webster Hall on November 30. They have no speaker budget. BUTTT...Wade Davis, one of my heroes, and one of the botanists I've spend hours interview over the years, is in town (NYC) at that time, so he'll be featured on the Ayahuasca Monologues night that I've been asked to speak at.
I would love to go and love to take Madeleina. She has not been to NYC since 2001 or so. But my family and friends are there.
So the question is this: should I use my credit cards and go, hoping I can sell enough books to pay for the airfare and expenditures? I will have a place to stay, but airfare will run $700 for Madeleina and I, I think, and then we'll need $500 for taxis, food and giving some flowers to the people who put us up. Can I sell $1200 in books at an event? At $25 that would be 48 books. About 60 if you include the price of the books. The house supposedly seats maybe 750, but who knows if it will be full. So do I invest--with no funds, purely on credit card speculation, the $1200 plus $200 for books--in myself in this case or am I out of my mind?
What say? You guys often have a better sense of me than I do, so feel free to respond.
Thanks for listening.
Peter G

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ya Gotta Love My Madeleina....Or At Least I Do...

Gotta love Madeleina. Her mom tore her special sheet--old and ragged--apart last night, to make a skirt for halloween for her baby sister, two-year-old Alexa. So this morning, rather than ragging on mom because of the sheet use (Madeleina didn't care about it a whit), Madeleina took the other half of the sheet and wore it as a wrap around skirt to school. Then she took Alexa's gausy slip, and put it over her head and around her shoulders so that it made kind of a slip-stole. Then she put on about four pounds of colored rocks she'd tied onto string as a necklace. And insisted on going to school that way.
I let her.
When I picked her up this afternoon she got into the car and whacked me a couple or eight times. Whack!, with her fist on my right shoulder. Whack! Whack! Whack! Whack! and then she laughed and said: "How could you let me go to school like this? I was the laughing stock of the whole place!"
Whack! Whack! Whack!
"Of course, I thought I looked great, and nobody in the whole school has the guts I have to wear something like this, so once again, I AM A WINNER!!!!!!"
Whack! Whack! Whack!
"But you, daddy, are a LOSER for letting your daughter get away with this. Sorry, POPS!"
Whack! Whack! Whack!
You all don't got to love her, but I got no choice. Anybody that cool can whack me till their fist falls off.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

11 AM, Sunday Night

It's nearly 11 AM, Sunday night. I've been working on my next cover story, due today, for the local alternative. I've done the work and am just waiting for it to finish gestating and hoping it comes popping out like the last couple of hundred 5,000 word pieces. Work for a month, make 10-20-30 phone calls, sit on it for a week or two, and then write it all in just a couple of hours. Sounds easy but actually relies on you having done your homework and having 20-30 years of experience behind you.
But while I was rewriting, for the 12th time, the opening section today, Italo and Marco came over. Italo razzed me and Marco about the string roof we made over the chicken coop, but was razzed in return for not having a better idea.
They both left at 5, and I went shopping--forgot garbage bags--then went to B Wild Wings for a drink with my friend Dave, the Sunday bartender. He wasn't there. I had two drinks with his backup, then left. Don't want to be caught driving drunk and don't want to kill anybody.
Got home, was alone. Prepared a piece of fresh tuna when Italo called. Did I have any food?
"Sure, buddy. I've got chicken breasts and thighs in the oven. Made them in case you or anyone else was hungry."
"I'll be there."
A few minutes later he rolled in, found Good Will Hunting on the television, and I served him chicken, cauliflower, corn and spinach in garlic. The movie was great.
When it finished he left.
Two minutes later, Marco showed up. "I hope you dont' mind. I had a nightmare. I'm sleeping here."
And with that he flopped down on the couch in the big living room.
Now I'm happy. Now I'm a dad again. Just for a night.
Life is good.
Good night.
Hope your night was as good as mine was.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

New Animals

Well, I finally got the six chicks out of the laundry room, then cleaned their business off the floor, scrubbed the table, books--that's where the cook books are--and rewashed all the clothes that normally sit on top of the dryer. And you know what? In the first two days the chicks, now about 8 weeks old, were out in the coop, three disappeared. I decided it must be snakes so I put a hose underneath the coop in the most obvious hole and turned the water on high. Nothing. An hour later, nothing. That had to be 10 gallons of water a minute, or five and Marco, Madeleina and I left it on for about two hours. Nothing. No animals came out from under the little coop house and not a drop of water escaped. Where the heck did 600-1,200 gallons of water go? we all wondered.
So then two days ago, Marco went out with a pick axe and tore up the floor of the coop. He came back--I was in the house taking a break from mowing the lawn that had grown to over two feet in that general section of yard on the other side of the creek--to announce that he'd discovered a colony of field rats. "I killed three or five, but there must have been 20 or 30 under that shed. And I only saw one part."
I gave him a bunch of rat poison cubes and he came back the next day and filled in the area under the house--seems there is a sinkhole there, which is where the water went--and then laid a new floor and that is that.
For now.
So in the last two days we've not lost a chicken to the rats, though I'm still skeptical about how the rats attacked and carried off the chickens without leaving a single feather and not a drop of blood. And I know it's not the red-tailed hawks anymore, as we've got that spiderweb of string and copper wire over the cage now and it has not been touched. And there is not a single hole large enough to accommodate a hawk with wings open--flying in--or a hawk with a chicken in it's mouth taking off.
So did the rats do it? Hard to fathom without feathers or blood. But then I'm not a farmer.
Today, to shore up the ranks, I lucked into a few chickens about two months away from laying, and a few ducks. Madeleina is now filling up the small duck pond. So until those rats get them, I'm gonna hear the sweet sound of quacking for a while. And the cluck of half a dozen chickens. And that will blend with the bleating of the goats, the insistent sound of the meow of the cat, the bark of Boots. And the birds in the house.
Lot of sound. But then it just reminds me to live every minute. Know what I mean?
PS: Madeleina just opened a Dr. Pepper made with cane sugar. It's an 8 oz bottle, but different from regular soda because of the natural, if poisonous, cane sugar.
"Dad, you're the best," she said. "Now, can you go out and feed those animals while I sit here, watch television and enjoy this soda?"
I didn't say anything. But she knew what I was thinking. Not a chance, darling. Not a chance.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

This Was Last Night, But What the Heck

A friend of mine wrote a note yesterday and I responded, and then this morning she wrote back and I reread all the notes and saw this non-private part of my initial response and though, what the heck, haven't given the readers much food stuff lately, so I'm gonna give them this. And I hope my friend doesn't mind, and I hope you readers don't mind getting it a day late either.

I'm making squid tonight. Gonna saute/fry a couple of pounds. Italo, Sara, Marco, Chepa, the babies, friends of hers are coming. I was gonna just do some sesame salmon for me and Madeleina, but then the rest happened. So I bought the calamari, made a nice, hot, light tomato sauce, got good fresh-baked loaf of parmesan bread, and will serve them all that while I have both the squid AND the salmon. And you can bet Madeleina will be at my heels, saying, ", did you forget you bought that salmon for me?" And I'll tell her I didn't forget for a second.
Then Marco will say: "Dad, I was working on the chicken coop....any chance you have any meat?" And I'll say: "Look in the oven, the apricot-stuffed loin of pork with roast potatoes/baby organic carrots, onions and celery from last night is there."
And Sara will say: "If you have roast pork, you should have saurkraut..." And I'll say, "It's on the stove, in the little pot, with the lardons"--courtesy of Claudia V, of course, who, when editing my book, suggested I throw some tasty lardons into it to give it a bit if juice.
And everybody will eat and then they will leave and I will go to bed alone, in an empty house but I will remember that it was full of laughter for a couple of hours. And that's worth the price of admission.
And it happened just that way.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Laurels, Ain't that Nice?

Okay, so Morgan Maher, the brilliant artist and the fellow who illustrated my book, got it in his noggin to secure the webpage, and damned if he didn't do it for $10. Which is probably an indication of how much I'm not in demand. But that Morgan is designing an hellacious page, which has reviews, lots of audio interviews, pics, illos (which he did for the book), bios of myself, himself and Johan Fremin, the brilliant artist who created the book, and more stuff than I knew happened around the book.
So what about that?
Are these guys cool or what?
I'll put up the link when it's done.
And I'm also gonna tell you that an organization got in touch with me yesterday to ask if I'd be willing to accept an award for a story I did on Hemp for the Fort Worth Weekly last year. Willing? Are you kidding?
So ain't that cool too?
Here's the thing: It's coming now because of 25-35 years of hard hard work. And I'm glad and proud. But I also know that whatever it is, I still have to cook/prepare dinner for the kids, the goats, the dog, the chickens, the ducks, the cats and the birds tonight. So there is a balance and it's a tightrope. I don't mind walking it. I hope the work is good, always. I don't want to be someone who short-shrifts anybody.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Biology Class--Freshman Year

I've been in touch with one of the former Catholic Brothers, now a layman, who taught math at my high school, Bishop Reilly in Queens, New York. I mentioned how tough the biology class was and that biology simply escaped me. I might have done better if I'd ever opened the book, but I always thought I was smart enough to just listen in class and never read any of the books at home except for my geometry book--cause I loved geometry--the novels and plays in English--cause I loved English--and an occasional look through Mary Dolciani's horrible nightmare-fueling algebra books. And as if her books weren't bad enough, when I got to Hunter College, guess who I got for my first Algebra 101 class? MARY DOLCIANI HERSELF!!!!! God, she was awful. First day she announced that there would be no eating, drinking or smoking cigarettes in class. What? We were always allowed to do those things. Worse, as soon as the announcement was made, she opened a cup of coffee, unwrapped a muffin, and lit a smoke.
I objected.
"The reason I can do these things and you can't," she said, "is that I know when I am going to speak. You, however, never know when you'll be called on to answer something I ask and I don't want to waste the class' time while you finish chewing or put down your coffee."
Point well made but it only made me hate her more.
Back to biology. I told my former teacher this story about biology class.

Once, in the biology class, we had to get an animal and dissect it at home as a project. Well, I got an alligator from the pet store and Brother Walter gave me a syringe and a bottle of formaldehyde, but no directions. The formaldehyde opened on the Q-44 bus going home, and I lost the syringe, but I didn't think that was important as I didn't know what I was to do with it anyway. So I got home, put my little alligator into a pot and filled it with the remaining formaldehyde. Man did that little critter jump!
I put a lid on the pot, and then a cinderblock and waited him out. He took about an hour to die, it seemed at the time. And then I cut his head open with a chisel and hammer to take a look at his brain, which was supposed to have two distinct lobes. Of course I crushed the brain with the hammer and chisel, so I didn't wind up with much of an experiment.
BUTTTT.....what I learned, crazily, from that experience, was that I never ever wanted to kill anything I didn't have to from that day on. And even now, this morning, when a waterbug came into my kitchen I went to kill it, then decided to give it a pass, so long as he left quickly. He did.
I don't know that the experiment was meant to impart the sanctity of life, but it did. Funny world, eh?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Upcoming Trip Info

My son Italo wrote a response to my "January--Fantastic News" post of a week or so ago that I'd forgotten to give any info on the trips.
So here's the deal: On Sat, Jan 8, I'm taking a small group of people into the jungle in Peru, which will be followed by a trip to the Andes mountains to visit Machu Picchu.
It's a 21-day trip. The jungle portion is 12 1/2 days; the mountain portion is 8 1/2 days.
There will be lots of indigenous medicines/ceremonies during our time together. In the jungle there will also be riverboat travel under the Amazon sky and on the Amazon itself; there will be hikes in the most fantastic swamp I know. There will be some walking in first growth jungle, under the high trees, learning about plant medicines, collecting wild foods, canoeing in the dark, swimming in a lake that's home to pink and grey river dolphins, and anything else we can squeeze in. And we can usually find some other things to squeeze in.
In the mountains, there will be more medicine ceremonies, with two of the finest curanderos I know. And there will be clambering around breathtaking ruins, and visits to an extraordinary market, and two days at Machu Picchu and again, anything else I can squeeze in.
People are welcome to sign up for either portion of the trip or the entire trip.

Then in February, beginning on the first saturday, I've got a 9 1/2 day jungle intensive. It's similar to the 12 1/2 day jungle trip but not quite the same because no two trips are the same. My team and I always try to do at least a couple of things with each group that we've not done before.

Note on my team: My jungle team is the best team in the world. We're like the Chicago Bulls when Michael J was in his prime and Rodman was vacuuming up every rebound in sight. They will take care of you--in terms of protecting you, looking out for you and making sure you're entertained and taught well--wonderfully. And they'll do that without coddling you or getting in the way of you having your experiences.

Note on the trips: We don't go to no stinkin' lodges. Ain't no television at night. We go to deep jungle and you will get dirt under your findernails and you will bathe in the river and you will love and come out of the trip a changed person. If you currently suck, you will suck less. If you are already a diamond, we'll polish you up. These are no fooling intense trips, but they are not physically difficult. I've had some guests who were sure they couldn't do things but darn if they didn't surprise themselves.

For something of a pretty good itinerary--though note that each trip is a little different and that I've already added a second medicine ceremony to the mountain portion of the first trip--please go to and then go to the TOURS page.
The basics are there, including a pretty good day-to-day, a list of what's included and what is not, and the prices.
If anyone thinks that a few hundred dollars off a price would help make a trip possible, please ask and I'll see what I can do.
Now get that check book out and sign up for one of them. Your next change won't be till June.
These are really pretty special trips.
Thanks for listening.
Hope my son is happy now.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cute Little Story

Might have posted something like this once before but it's short so if I did, just bear with me.
Someone on a forum I occasionally post on was discussing Tom Robbins the other day. It was slightly off topic but reminded me of this story. Here is what i wrote.

I've been a fan of Robbins for a long time. And I have a funny Tom Robbins story to tell. About 10-12 years ago, I got a call. I answered. "Hello, this is Tom Robbins. I hope you don't mind but Terence McKenna gave me your phone number and said you were the expert on frog hallucinogens. I'm writing a book about them and wonder if you could talk to me about them..."
Well, I worked with Phylomedusa bicolor, the Matses' sapo medicine, and Robbins was talking about the Bufo Alvarious, which I knew but certainly was not an expert on. And what I did know was from the Bufo Amazonas. So I couldn't help him much. I think I gave him Tom Lyttle's number, and for those of you who know, Tom Lyttle was a crazy genius who died way too young. The book Robbins finally wrote was Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas, a terrific piece.
But while I couldn't help him out, I was thrilled to get the call. "This is Tom Robbins...Terence McKenna gave me your phone number..." Man, I thought I made it right there. It was so cool that I was probably shining for a week.
Of course, still struggling to pay the mortgage and keep shoes on my kids's feet, I know I'm not there yet, but for a minute a decade ago, well, I was sky high.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Man, Does Life Slip by or What?

Man, does life slip by or what? Last thing I knew I had my horrible big toenails--infected by some strange, still unidentified Amazon poison--cut by Chepa because the poison triples the depth and cannot be cut by me. And now they're completely painful again. So four months went by that quick. Last thing I knew, Chepa cut my hair before the June trip to Peru and now I look like a damned old hippie--which I am proud to be--who doesn't groom himself. And last thing I knew my Madeleina was just a little girl and today I found blood in the toilet. And Sierra, Chepa's 4-year old, was asking me things and now, just since June, she's reminding me to hold hands and pray before breakfast. And Alexa, Chepa's youngest at 2, now talks and tells me all the animals that have died since she last saw them. "Goat mom, died. Blue bird in kitchen, died. Bad cats died. A lot animals died."
And last thing I knew the grass in the hill space over the creek was cut but now it's 2 feet tall and all weeds with stickers. And I was out cutting it and I've got hundreds of fire ant bites and dozens of really painful-to-remove stickers on my shorts and legs and ankles and sneakers.
And the damned mortgage is due again.
Can't we slow things down just a trace? I mean, come on folks. Let's work together. If your life is changing as fast as mine, and I'm running as fast as I can, then you're all in the same boat, and we seem to be swimming up current. Which is not the right direction.
Hold on, it's probably gonna get tougher from here. Got a trip coming up in January and another in February and by the time those are both done, Madeleina will probably be asking me to buy her a car...
Lots of love to get through it to all of you. From a deep good place in my heart.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Morning at the Gorman Spread

Well, it's Friday morning, 7:12. I'm drinking my coffee and reading my newspapers on the internet. I've read that there was a horrible storm that raged through New York City yesterday and wrote to a friend who lives there to see if she's okay.
When I got up in the middle of the night to take my middle of the night too-much-liquid-for-my-kidneys-to-handle break, I noticed an empty box of curlers on the bathroom sink.
When I got up at 5:30 for good, I went to Madeleina's room door and called to her to ask her if she needed to get up early. She said she needed a smidge more sleep. Normally that would mean I'd be trying to wake her every 15 minutes for the next hour-and-a-half, but this time she was up on her own in a flash. She came bounding into the living room, some of her hair in long bouncing curls.
"Hey dad, check it out. Today's picture day so I thought I'd put curlers in to give myself a different look."
"You look gorgeous, baby."
"Yeah, except that this zit came out right here," she said, pointing to something I couldn't even see. "It's so ugly. And from a distance it makes it look like my nose is bleading. Plus I have such tiny eyelashes. Why don't I have your eyelashes? Why do you have such long beautiful lashes and I'm stuck with mom's?"
"They'll grow, don't worry."
"Not in time for picture day."
"Well, not by 10 this morning, no..."
"So, dad, what would you say if I--I mean, you know I don't use makeup because that's such a girly thing, but what if I used just a little today to cover up this zit?"
"Cool. Anything you like."
"Thanks, dad. You're the best."
Five minutes later she came back into my office/the front living room, this time with about 12 bracelets on each arm.
"Do you know that I have a lot of beautiful things? I mean, these are great. I just never wear them because I'm afraid I'll break them. Maybe I'll just wear the pink ones today. Because they go with the pink earrings and they're the hardest to break because they're plastic, not stone or silver or anything...."
"You rock, Macaroni."
"Thanks, dad!" And off she went.
Fifteen minutes passed. From the bathroom I hear, "You get off. Right now. And you, you get back into place and stay there. You hear me?"
"Who are you talking with, Madeleina? Yourself or you have company I don't know about?"
"Just these stupid curlers, dad. They're not staying in place. And the mascara is going in the wrong place."
"Excellent. Everything likes a little personal attention."
Five more minutes passed and out she came. "Can you come here, dad? I think I just poked myself in the eye with makeup and now I can't see."
I took a look and got the tiny bit of dabbing cream out of her eye.
"Thanks, dad. I guess I'm just not good at these girly things..."
"I don't think make up skills are something you're born with, darlin. I think that's a practiced skill."
"I should probably ask mom....but I don't really need to because I don't like things like makeup yet..."
No, I thought. But you're starting to lean in that direction.
My baby's growing up, I guess.
Good for her.