Monday, January 30, 2012

I'm off; see you in a month or so

Okay: About to get in the car for the ride to the airport. It's sad. It's always sad for me to leave. And once I'm in Peru it's sad to come back. Oh, well. I picked it and despite its lousy moments it's a great life.
For all of you: I don't hit the computer much once I am in Peru. I don't have a laptop and don't like going to the public places too often. So I'm gonna say goodbye now for a little while. I'll be back in early March. I'll miss sharing stories with you all.
Stay safe. I'll be in touch soon.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Wishful Thinking/Hypocritical Action

I think most of you know that I write a column for Skunk Magazine. It's an irreverent but tasty marijuana magazine out of Montreal. The column is called Drug War Follies. I get to write anything I damned well please about the drug war. Most of it is rotten stuff: whether it's about the awful situation in the Mexican states along the US/Mexican border or the imprisonment of non-violent drug users or how money can corrupt; nearly all of what I write is about pain. And that makes me angry. I'd rather be writing a column about how people were nice to each other today. I'd rather be writing about how the CEO's of every company and corporation in the world just decided to give their workers a little bit bigger piece of the pie and how they're all going to start training programs, with pay, for the jobless.
Freaking bleeding heart, I know.
So this is the opening of the new Drug War Follies column that I'm putting to bed just 48 hours before tipping out and heading to Peru for five weeks. This column will probably appear in about eight weeks.
Between the time this was written and the time you read this, several thousand marijuana users in the US will have been sent to mostly privatized jails around the country, another 1,000 people will have died in the Mexican Drug War, and untold suffering will have been unleashed on medical marijuana users. All of it pointless if peace and decency is an aim. Unfortunately, for many people, peace and decency only apply to those who make the rules; those who want to live by other rules, or change the rules, be damned.
And I wish that weren’t so.
I’m writing this as I prepare to head down to the Peruvian Amazon again, my home away from home here in bucolic Joshua, Texas. I’ve got a group to take out to the deep green. They’ll ride on overcrowded flat-bottomed riverboats under the Amazon sky. They’ll see fantastic jungle and hike in slightly terrifying swamps and have the opportunity to do all sorts of good medicines—like ayahuasca and magic shrooms and the Matses’ medicines sapo and nu-nu—some of which would land them in deep trouble here in North America. They will come back refreshed, renewed and ready to face the world with new strengths and abilities.
I wish everyone could join me. I wish everyone could take a few weeks off from serving jail time for non-violent drug crimes and come with me out to the deep woods. Hell, I wish the private prison profiteers would come with me: I guarantee that when they returned they’d understand that it ain’t fucking right to make money off people’s suffering. And to encourage more suffering to keep them private jail cells filled and the bottom line fat and happy. Hell, yes, I wish I could take Joe Arpaio out to the woods and have him drink ayahuasca and then come back a different person with a whole different set of beliefs.
I wish that between the time I finish this and the time you read it amnesty gets called for non-violent drug crimes and marijuana gets legalized. I wish that in the next several weeks ALL drugs would be legalized, which would end a lot of killing in Mexico and a lot of slavery on the pot farms in parts of Africa and elsewhere. And end the need for those damned prisons. And end the fear so many people face when they get that awful knock on the door, or have the door knocked in.
I wish all that peace and decency but I won’t hold my breath. Because to ever get there from here, short of divine intervention, is going to take work. Hard work. Education, protests, pulling money from the companies that support the private prisons run by GEO and the Corrections Corp. of America and other bottom feeders whose money comes directly in proportion to the amount of suffering that’s inflicted by criminalizing the behavior of good and decent folk.
That’s a lot of work that needs to be done. And here I am heading off to Peru instead of doing it. Sometimes I feel like a fucking hypocrite for sure.

Monday, January 09, 2012

First Photo Ever on This Blog

Okay: This is the first photo I've ever put up. I just found it. It's a picture of my Cold Beer Blues Bar/Cevicheria Madeleina in Iquitos Peru. It was a very very very cool place. This was taken by JT Cathey. If he objects, then I'll take it down. But for the next few minutes, here it is.
The bar was simple, serving mostly beer and a few local liquors. We served fantastic food. We had a good selection of blues music as well as good Peruvian music. We had one of my High Times softball team jerseys on the wall. The team was called The Bonghitters and that's what people saw when they saw the jersey. We had the skull of a 15 foot black caiman on the bar in a corner and the old skin of a 20' anaconda on one wall above the windows. Our clients were US ex-pats, DEA agents, US Special Forces, Peruvian drug dealers, pilots with the CIA--sometimes all at once. Why? Because we were the only joint in town that was anything like a real New York bar--in the sense that when you came in you were who you wanted to be and left the heck alone if that's what you wanted. Hell of a place.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Okay, There's My President

So two days ago I was explaining recess appointments to Madeleina, how I really wanted Obama to make a couple of dozen of them. I wanted the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director named, National Labor Relations Board members names, I wanted a couple of dozen judgeships filled around the country: You know the jobs that normally get filled either through congress or recess appointments.
And when I thought the window of opportunity had passed, I wrote that wailing last blog piece. But then, my pres came out and made the first recess appointments we needed. Good for him. Madeleina wanted to know if it was a good thing that happened and I gave her both my point of view and the opposition point of view. I think she liked my point of view that it was a good thing, that we need a president who will do what every other president has done and just be freaking presidential now and then. That's why they have the power of recess appointments--even if that power was initially given to the president because congress met much more infrequently 150 years ago.
So good. As Julio said once when I told him about meeting a terrifying entity during an ayahuasca dream: Do you have cojones, Pedro? Grab your balls! If the monster is 100 feet tall, make yourself 150 feet tall!
Good on Obama.
And then, Madeleina and I sat down to a nice meal of roast chicken with rice and gravy and a side of steamed broccoli. We didn't eat much chicken but boy that gravy on the rice was good!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Where the Hell was Obama?????

Today, Jan. 3, 2012, Congress recessed for a few seconds before entering the new Congressional session. Where the hell was my president? I wanted him to be fair, but the Resnubs are idiots, not fair, just opportunistic and obstructionist. So I fully expected my president, Barack Obama, to fill maybe 130 federal vacancies in those few seconds between sessions when sessions were officially out and the president gets to wield actual power. I wanted judges put in place. If the Republicans didn't want middle of the road judges--and wouldn't even vote on them--I fully expected my president to put in very Left Judges, just to show them what the freak is in store. If they don't want people running business overhaul, then I want the most tough people in place. Let them suffer for the their mean-spiritedness.
But my president, President Obama, didn't fill those slots during the few seconds he had. He could have appointed 20 people in 10 seconds. I'm very disappointed. I don't have a big dick, but I have bigger balls than anyone can imagine. And I was hoping that my president might have a decent set as well.
Yo! Pres! When are you going to give the people who elected you the freaking hard on we elected you to give? Time to fuck the idiots, get it? When are you going to show the balls to do it?
I expect you to have the ability to throw a few people off of tall rooves. That's New York mob style. If you don't have that in you, then you shouldn't be walking, much less talking, much less president.
Show your balls, My president. Let them shine.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Should Lovers Sit Together While Doing Ayahuasca

On a board to which I occasionally post, someone has posed the question of why some curanderos don't allow couples to sit together. Some people say it's hogwash. I don't think so. I think couples tend to interfere with one another during a very private time. I learned that from experience.
So this is what I wrote on that thread:

I'll start by saying that in general--and there are exceptions--ayahuasca is not, in my experience, a group situation. Which doesn't mean you don't drink in a group, but when you are in the medicine, and when you are in your dream, you are very alone. And I think you want to be alone. Scary, yes, but that's what the curandero is there for.
That said, when people come on my trips, I don't force couples to be apart if they want to be together, but I do encourage it. Why? Well, often, one person in the couple thinks the couple is stronger than it actually is. The other person may not feel that way, at least not having come all the way to the Amazon to explore their soul. Sometimes that's confided in me beforehand, sometimes after the first ceremony.
More than that, there is a temptation to watch out for those we love. I remember once when my wife and I were quite close during a ceremony, and at the time we were very much in love, and she was struggling. She was moaning painfully, occasionally cursing under her breath. I tried to leave her alone but eventually leaned over and asked if she was alright.
She simply opened her eyes for a moment and asked what the hell I was doing invading and interfering with her dream.
That was more than 15 years ago and I took it to heart. Even with people who are not lovers, I have a rule that no one, no one will interfere with anyone. I don't care if someone is vomiting on themselves and screaming "help me". No interference. My team and I will see to that person in a way that will not interfere. But if someone nearby, and it happens more often with couples or good friends who are near or next to one another, reaches over and touches that person in an attempt to calm them, or talks to them, or interferes in any way, well, you just have to know that more often than not, that apparent "crisis" came on at EXACTLY the moment when the heavens were about to reveal the secret purpose of that person's life, or the purpose of all life or something else just as startlingly vital. And when you, as a neighbor or lover interfere by asking if you can help or if anything is wrong, well, you took that moment away. That call of "help me" might have been aimed at an angel, but us humans might hear it as a call for help. So when the angel was going to help, us humans interfered and the angel, who has it's own life, simply moved on.
So no interference is the rule. And it's difficult, difficult, for people who love each other, to restrain themselves from trying to help.
That said, I will admit that I have held both of my sons when they were in their early teens and very frightened. And I once asked someone to hold me when I thought I would die from fear. In my son's cases, my holding them didn't interfere. In the case where my fear got the best of me, my cowardice certainly interfered.
So I think the reason that couples are often separated is simply that one will work with the other, trying to help, and even if they don't touch or talk, they will be interfering with the work.
I think it's for the same reason that couples are rarely, in my experience, allowed to diet together. You can't be working on you if you're working on making sure the other person is getting the work done. And you probably can't help the other person do the work. So it's probably better that one diet's in January and the other in March, so to speak.
Just my experience.

Might Help Someone

Someone on a board to which I occasionally post asked for help with a malignant melanoma. There are some things used to reduce tumors in western Amazonia that might help this person. I think they will. I am not a doctor, so this is just passing along information that I have seen work sometimes even in extreme cases. At the worse, I've never seen this material produce anything negative in anyone. It's just something that might help someone someday. THIS DOES NOT TAKE THE PLACE OF STANDARD THERAPIES, okay? This would be in addition, or prior. Check with your doctor, please.
The plant materials are available through many sites. Fresh is optimum, but may not always be available. To find vendors, just punch in the name of one of the ingredients.
This is what I wrote and I hope it helps:

I think sacha jergon with una de gato might help a lot. If you're in Peru, get fresh material. 3 or 4 good sticks of una de gato in 3 liters of cool water. Steep at very low heat for several hours until you've reduced it to 1- 1/2 liters. During last hour, put in about 1/4 (two ounces) of a medium sized, fresh sacha jergon--a nice pie shaped piece.
When done, strain. Drink about one ounce three times a day. If you find you have loose stools, cut back to 1/2 ounce for a day or two.
The una de gato will eliminate excess fluid in your system--which is why it's good for arthritis, bursitis, etc--and if you find you have very dry and difficult-to-pass stools, drink extra water daily to give your system enough fluids.
Additionally, you might want to make an extract of medio renako tree bark and drink that along with the una de gato/sacha jergon. For that, get fresh medio renako bark--you can order it at the market in Belen--and let it sit in aguar diente for a few days. If you don't have aguar diente, use 80 proof plain vodka. Drink one ounce twice daily. If your system cannot have alcohol, cook the medio renako bark in water, similarly to the way you cook the una de gato.
Good luck.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Well, we made it. We're into 2012. Now, what kind of a year are we going to make it? Will we all work alone and try to get our personal dreams fulfilled or will we work together and make a better world for everybody? Will we keep our eyes and ears open and make political decisions one by one--decisions with an eye toward making this a better worlde--or will we follow some party line without utilizing our own critical thinking and wind up living in a world of someone else's vision?
Will we all give a little more time, effort, money, whatever we have, even if it's a smile, to someone who needs it, including people making a living doing those annoying phone solicitations? You and I and we all know they'd rather be doing something else but circumstances force them to sit at a table with a computer and make hundreds of calls daily to people who mostly curse at them.
You all get the point. I think it would be a better world with more giving, sharing, loving, especially when it's hard. So I'm going to try to do my best to do that. Will it make a difference? I don't know. I know it won't make things worse.
AND, NOW THAT I'VE SAID THAT....about 45 minutes ago I asked Madeleina what she was going to do for exercise today. She noted that it's vacation. I said that the food I make was to be used for fuel, not storage and to get her butt outside and get something done in the way of exercise. She asked what that might be? I told her she could paint one or both of the bridges over the runoff creek now that Mike and Martin repaired the one that needed it and I bought fresh paint and brushes.
She scoffed. "That's not exercise. Maybe for an old man like you..."
How about mowing some lawn?
"That mower could kill me..."
"Then get the leaves out of the gutter..."
"You said you were going to do that."
"No, darling, you suggested you'd do it..."
"Yeah, dad, about two months ago. Then you said to remind you, because you were going to do it..."
"No, you were to remind me that it needed doing and that you'd volunteered."
"I'm not doing that."
"It's not hard. You just put on some gloves and get the ladder a bag and put the leaves in it. Then move the ladder until it's done."
"We don't even have gloves..."
"I know. Us poor people take a plastic bag and turn it inside out and put it on our hands and pretend it's a glove..."
"I cannot believe you're asking me to do that. I hate you."
With that I was off to take a shower. When I came out she was on the ladder,barefoot, a bag on her right hand, scooping out the leaves from the gutter while singing at the top of her lungs: "Only Jesus can save you now, you sinner...." or somesuch--it wasn't a religious song, I can tell you that!--and having a ball. When she moved the ladder and the ivy caught onto its legs she threatened the poor plant with death if it ever dared interfere with her ladder again.
It took all of 25 minutes, including retrieving the ladder and sweeping up the bits that fell onto the flagstone. Nonetheless, when she came in she was seriously pouting. I called to her and she ignored me. I called again--she was only 10 feet away--and this time she responded.
"You know what you now have?" I asked.
"No," she answered.
"Well, you officially have a legitimate story that you can exaggerate to your kids someday."
"What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about one day when you have kids or nephews or nieces or whatever, and they don't want to work you can tell them the story of the New Year's day when your dad forced you outside without a jacket and made you climb a ladder barefoot to clean the gutters with no gloves. And it's a true story, sort of. Just leave out the part that it was 60-degrees and that you refused to wear shoes or a jacket. Let them imagine the cold. That should get their attention. And no need to tell them that the gutters are all of 8 feet above the ground, either. Trust me, it's a great story."
"You might be able to justify cruelty to children, dad, but I can't. And I'm never having children, either, given how you treat them!"
And with that she cut herself a nice slice of last night's chocolate bit/walnut laced banana bread and poured a heaping tablespoon of sweet condensed milk on top of it. "At least I deserve a little breakfast after all that work!"
Happy new year, everybody! Let's make it the best one yet.