Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Games we played in Queens, New York in the late 1950s


My daughter was asking me why I fought so much as a kid in Whitestone, Queens, NY. I probably fought once every two weeks with my friends, and once a month with kids I didn't really know. And yes, I lost almost every damned one. When I got someone down I would ask if they gave up and if they said yes, I would let them go. Then they would jump on me as I walked away and darn, I'd lost again.
Those fights were pretty regular between say, 8 years old and 15 or 16. A few broken noses, a lost tooth, a broken jaw, broken wrist, broken fingers and knuckles. Normal wear and tear, though, for an Irish, Italian, German neighborhood.
But then my daughter asked me what was the craziest game we played. Well, it wasn't one walled handball, which was great, or stoop ball, or punch ball, or stick all, or baseball, or football, or card flipping, or even skolsie, the bottle cap game where you snap your bottlec aps along the gravel street with your thumb and forefinger, trying to get your bottle caps in certain places on a chalked board on the street surface.
No, the odd game, and I will bet a lot of you played it as well, had a name i forget. You stood, facing your opponent, about 4 feet from one another. You spread your legs out as far as you could. So did your opponent. Then, after flipping a coin or using "rock, paper, scissors" to determined who started, one guy would take out a folding knife or bowie knife, and throw it in the dirt in the space between the other fellow's feet.
He'd make it, of course. then it was your turn. You did the same. Both players moved their feet in by a few inches. You threw the knives again.
You would both make it, and then move your feet closer together and throw again. And again. And again.
It generally took about 7 or 8 throws to get feet a foot or so apart. That's where it got tricky. Cause if your opponent made the throw into the dirt, and you did too, you next throw would be at a space that was only 6 inches wide. And if you both made that throw, the next throw was at a space about one inch wide. And that was the throw that was going to hurt, because it was going to hit your sneakers, go through them, and the knife would embed itself in you foot.
A lot of guys would chicken out when it got that close, but the point of the game was to see who would stick with it, knowing the pain was coming. And knowing that the guy who threw his knife into your foot was going to have to stand there will you did it to him, while his knife was still in you.
I forget the name of that game but I probably played it hundreds of times and have the scars and some broken upper foot bones to prove it.
1951 was a great year to be born. We had it all. Including crazy shit.

Monday, October 26, 2020

The Hunter Biden Laptop Censorship Conspiracy


I think a lot of people are upset that Twitter and some other social media, as well as a number of news outlets, are not covering the Hunter Biden laptop computer allegations. They are calling it, including major journalist Matt Taibbi, censorship and a dangerous precedent. I even got hammered by a notable journalist in private for not railing against censorship of the news.
The story was initially told in the NY Post. I read the Post daily, along with the NY Daily news, to keep a finger on the pulse of my city -- even though I've been out here in Joshua, TX for 18 years now.
The initial story went something like this: Joe Biden's grown son Hunter brought a laptop computer or two from Los Angeles to Delaware to have them worked on by a legally blind computer guy. Hunter left them for more than 90 days, which made them the legal property of the computer guy.
The computer guy, who thought it was Hunter Biden who brought the laptops in for servicing, but couldn't be sure because of his eyesight, then decided to go through the hard drives of the laptops. (Two were allegedly brought in; I am not sure if he went through one or both.) He decided to read hundreds, perhaps thousands of emails despite his extremely poor eyesight, and found one in which a person in Ukraine -- where Hunter was on the board of Burisma, a Ukraine oil company, making $50 grand a month -- thanked Hunter for arranging an introduction to his dad, Vice President Joe Biden.
The blind computer guy knew he had an important story on his hands and tried to give it to major newspapers who would not take it unless they could look at the hard drive. US Government officials were also not interested.
So the computer guy reached out to Rudy Giuliani, who had been looking for dirt on Joe Biden, and Rudy got the story to the NY Post. The Post ran with it as a huge cover story scandal. Hunter was obviously pimping out his father for money. An alleged $30-$40 million changed hands somewhere along the line because of those supposed introductions to the VP.
The Post story had print outs of emails, but the emails had no metadata, which, I'm told, would have allowed people to verify who sent them, when they were sent, and from where, etc.
Rudy G was asked to produce the laptop(s) he had so that journalists could make some verifications. Rudy G refused.
So there is this story that Hunter is pimping out his dad, that Joe is apparently okay with it, that metadata doesn't matter, that a blind guy is not just a computer whiz but willing to wade through hundreds or thousands of emails to come on a thank you for a future meeting between a Ukraine official and Joe Biden -- which no one suggests actually happened.
Still, some right wing outlets ran with it. It got legs: Suddenly there were alleged sex tapes with Hunter but no one ever saw them; the $30 - $40 million cannot be found, and the blind man cannot be sure who the heck really dropped off the computer(s).
I do not agree with censorship of the news. Ever. But this is not a news story. Until there are at least SOME verifiable facts, it is just propaganda. It has no value, particularly coming two weeks before a presidential election in which Joe Biden is running.
Now some might say that we, as journalists, need to cover the story because it came from Rudy Giuliani. I strongly disagree. No one, no one would cover it if it came from Joe Blow. It would be ignored. But Giuliani has spent years making up lies and putting them out there in television interviews, so he no longer gets the benefit of the doubt. Refusing to allow computer techs from going over the hard drive in the alleged computer(s) simply seals that deal.
This is not censorship in any way, shape, or form. This is not news. Nothing has been proven, not a single element of the story.
This is a case where it is important to squash the propaganda rather than airing it. If elements of the story get proven this week, then go for it. If investigation of the allegations leads to legitimate discovery of wrong doing, print it. But as it stands right now, it has no news value.
It is just an attempt to scream "Fire!" in a movie theater.

Monday, October 05, 2020

Once in a While I Feel Beat Up


Once in a while I feel beat up. I mean I feel like I just lost a fight to Jackie Jones when I was eight years old and he did not fight fair. Today I'm thinking about the cataract surgery I had last week, and both the second cataract surgery and some other surgery to a private area i'll have n the next two weeks. I'm thinking about the hernia surgery, the three times they cut me from sternum to lower abdominal to fix a ruptured intestine, and the three operations to clean up the flesh eating bacteria on my leg. I'm thinking about the major operation I had on my mouth after a bad fall. I'm thinking about the minor heart attack, the malaria, the rheumatoid arthritis that put me in the hospital for months as a kid, and the hemmoragic dengue a couple of years ago.
I'm thinking about the baby bushmaster snake bite, the copperhead bite in my back yard a couple of years ago; I'm thinking of the fairly recent two anaconda bites that were not poisonous but inflicted serious damage to the nerves in my right hand, and the Brazilian wandering spider bite that nearly killed me.
I am thinking about bot fly infestations, vampire bat bites, bullet ant bites. I am remembering several broken noses from fights I lost badly, and a broken jaw. I am thinking about broken ribs and fingers, forearms and ankles.
And all the rest, from a cracked skull to wretched fungal infections in my legs, to 12 stitchings on my fingers and hands for various kitchen accidents over the years. Don't forget the failed kidneys, the collapsed bladder and so forth. The list is endless.
But while I really feel beat up today -- and my cigarettes are certainly part of the problem -- I am also thinking that man, I have had a time of it. I have loved, lost, loved again. I've discovered things. I've written stories that helped some people. I have laughed out loud. I've been here since the show started and I was not only in it, I was freaking complicit. And while I wish I was less beat up, I don't know that I could have lived my life in New York, Texas, and the Peruvian Amazon if I did not acquiesce to the dangers those places presented to me.
I am glad I did, even though right now, this minute, I wish I did not hurt so much.