Monday, May 30, 2016

Oy Vey! Gone again!

Oy vey, I'm gone again! Off to Peru, but this time with a twist: I've got a June trip and a July trip, neither full, unfortunately, but instead of staying down there between trips, I'm gonna sneak home for a couple of weeks. Why? A few reasons: First, my Madeleina goes back to college in early August and if I don't come back till the end of the second trip I'll hardly have any time with her. Then there is the matter of my legs: Since I tend to have severe apnea down there, I generally sleep sitting up in a chair, leaning my head on my arms on my desk. I love sleeping that way but if I do it for days--or weeks--my legs blow up enormously from basic force of gravity. And when they blow up the skin cracks, leaving me open to infection. And since I don't want any more leg infections, coming home and sleeping while laying down is a good option to beat that. I'm also gonna buy a couple of extra pillows so that I'll have a better chance at sleeping while semi-laying down than no chance at all. Pretty boring stuff. Sorry. When it's time to go my life is just a bunch of details.
    On the other hand, I'm gonna make these two trips fantastic things for the guests. I think my team is geared up and ready; I've sent lots of stuff up the river to camp already and I am stoked. Leave DFW tonight at 10:20 PM, arrive in Lima at 5:40 AM, then hit Iquitos tomorrow morning by about 10:45 AM. My room at the oldest hotel in Iquitos--no running water, unfortunately--is ready, my stuff is packed and just waiting for a last going-over before I seal it all up. If I have time I'll mow some lawn this afternoon to burn off nervous energy.
   But just to leave you with something, here's my newest column of Drug War Follies for Skunk Magazine. It's my 94th column for them, which is cool. I hope they keep me on till I hit 100, and then keep me on after that just for fun. Here it is. Have a great couple of weeks. I'll write from Iquitos if I can get my Ipad back from Chepa...


On any given day, reading the headlines is enough to make you question the humanity of humanity

By Peter Gorman

Today started out like most days: The cats started scratching at the couch I sleep on at about 5:30 AM to let me know I damned well ought to quit sleeping and get them fed. I ignored them as long as possible; when I finally got up I put them outside without food—nobody gets fed before I have coffee—and made myself some coffee. While it was brewing I brushed my teeth, took a shower and put on clean clothes.
     I said a big HELLO to the universe, thanked the powers that be that I didn’t die or kill anyone in my sleep, then sat down to my computer. I checked my email accounts—nothing too dramatic—checked to see if I’d sold a few books during the night—I love finding out I’ve sold several of my Ayahuasca or Sapo books while I slept—and then I opened the New York Daily News, the paper I used to read regularly for most of the 50 or so years I lived in New York city. It’s a working class paper, a blue collar paper that’s long on sports and local news, short on the heavier New York Times’ stories that I have never been able to dive into before a couple of cups of Joe.
    And you know, like a lot of other days, the headlines screamed wretched stuff from both New York and the Southwest: I guess their computer can read that my computer is now just south of Fort Worth, in Texas, so it includes a few stories from around here in tailoring the page to my locale. Anyway, these were in the headlines: Police looking for a guy who shot and killed another guy in the Bronx; a Mexican soccer star, Alan Pulido, was kidnapped in Tamaulipas, Mexico; a Georgia sheriff’s deputy was shot in the face while making a routine traffic stop; a biker got pissed off in a Queens, New York road-rage incident and shot the driver of a car through his window three times (driver stable, biker on the loose); vandals defaced military memorials in both California and Virginia; two men killed after being hit by trains in New York in separate incidents; three people shot at a fraternity barbeque in the Bronx; two dogs tied up and burned to death in Pennsylvania; a woman went crazy and stabbed another woman 48 times—killing her really, really dead—at a YWCA in Brooklyn, New York; ISIS and Syrian opposition fighters clashed in Northern Syria; 30 men in Brazil being sought for the gang rape of a 15-year-old. Oh, and a council in Pakistan clarified that men are perfectly allowed to beat their wives “lightly” if they didn’t do as they were told.
    Okay, there were a couple of stories about rescued puppies; a fireman who just got ordained as a priest; a good story about a couple of teachers really reaching out to tough-luck kids and having an impact on their lives. And there was sports, of course, and some opinion pieces about the upcoming U.S. presidential election and so forth.
    But most of the headlines were about how badly people treat each other and I’m probably starting to sound like a harpy on the issue, but what the fuck is wrong with people? Someone cuts you off in traffic you have to try to kill them? Have an argument over music and you have to stab somebody 48 times? 30 freaking grown men rape a 15 year old girl? WTF is going on in this world? And these stories are just the tip of the iceberg: What’s going on in Los Angeles? What horrible things happened in Toronto or Vancouver or Miami? How many people felt the urge yesterday, to hurt or kill other people or to kill themselves by stepping in front of trains? How many freaking refugees drowned trying to make it across the Mediterranean yesterday trying to get away from a war they want no part of?
   Were we always like this? I don’t think so. Maybe we were but without the internet we didn’t immediately access dozens of news stories from around the country and around the world. But it sure feels like I got to ask the question: Is there any humanity left in humanity?
    Couldn’t we all just smoke a nice organic outdoor bud—Cali Orange if you’re rolling for me, please—and talk our problems out? I know that sounds silly, but almost nobody goes ape-shit after they take a couple of tokes. It’s just the nature of the plant. It’s why the freaking beautiful cannabis plant was put here by the aliens to begin with! They knew we were crazy and wanted to give us something that would grow all over the world that would chill us out.
    The great folk musician and writer Tom Paxton wrote Talking Vietnam Potluck Blues in 1971. In it he talks about being a soldier in Vietnam. I don’t know if Paxton was ever actually in Vietnam but he was in the military at the right (wrong) time for it. Anyway, in it, the soldier is on a long patrol with several other soldiers and as they bed down for the night he smells pot.
    “I might be crazy but I think not.
    I’d swear to God that I smell pot.
    But who’d have pot in Vietnam?
    [The captain] said ‘What do you think you’re sitting on?’
    These funny little plants, thousands of them.
    Good God Almighty…Pastures of Plenty.”
So the patrol lights up, the captain gets a smile on his face and begins cleaning his rifle while chanting Hare Krishna. Well, our hero finally has to go pee and when he moseys off from the makeshift camp he runs into a Viet Cong soldier dressed in black. The soldier tells our hero that the Cong smelled the dope and thought it was trash, so he brought the Americans some top-flight Hanoi Gold.
   The two squads then get together and smoke, get high, and do not kill each other. And the captain finally gets on the radio and calls in to headquarters with this message: “Hello, headquarters. We have met the enemy and they have been smashed!”
   It was a beautiful little song—go look it up and give it a listen—that was just made up, but the message rings true. If you smoke with your enemy, you won’t be enemies. If you smoke alone, you won’t want to see others as enemies. If you just freaking take a couple of tokes you might even wind up loving your neighbor’s music, rather than having to stab her 48 times because you hate it so much.
   Silly, right? But right on: This plant can save the world if only we’d let it.
It would all be funny if people weren’t dying and the prisons weren’t full.


Raymond R said...

Hey Peter!
I just finished reading your "Ayahuasca In My Blood" book. Fantastic read all through, but the final parts of the book really (really!!) gripped me. Thanks for writing it. I, myself, am off to South America in a week's time, and for 3 months. I will be with Don Jose Campos at the end of July in Pucallpa. You mentioned a 'Don Jose' in your book - I'm gussing it may the very same curandero. Anyhow, enjoy your time back in Peru. And I look forward to your future blogs. Regards Raymond

stephen said...

Peter. Give us an inkling of what you're up to. I'm coming again . I can almost smell the muddy banks of the river. Lovely.!!!!!