Sunday, October 24, 2021

Music growing up

 

I am sitting in my office, half-laughing, half-sobbing. When I grew up, at maybe 11 or 12 I would take the bus and then the train to Manhattan. I played skee-ball on Times Square and made my way to the Village to listen to music. The music played live was Dave Van Ronk, Tom Paxton, Tim Buckley, the Blues Project, The Fugs (Kill for Peace). I wasn't old enough to go into the clubs, but I could go upstairs to where posters and stuff was sold and put my ear to the wall. If you add in Laura Nyro and others, well, that was a freaking education in responsibility, freedom, joy, love, heartbreak and a number of other emotions. That's why I break up when I listen. I just played one song from each of those people to my friend Devon. I don't really know if he was moved, but I'll bet he was. I was going back to 1962 for Van Ronk for goodness sake. Yes, later I loved the Stones, Yardbirds, Cream, Hendrix, (whose Electric Ladyland I was lucky enough to help build), and a thousand others, but those earliest personal influences were fantastic and still stick with me like arrows in my heart.
So if I am playing some of those people when you come to the house and I am sobbing, just allow me to sob. I am just trying to re-center and get back to square one.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

New Book Out

 my new book, Magic Mushrooms in India and Other Fantastic Tales just came out, courtesy of Gorman Bench Press. Buy it on Amazon and if you like it, write a review on Amazon.com. If you think it sucks that is okay. 

   Each one teach one.

Thank you,

Peter G¿?¿

Friday, October 15, 2021

Mark Twain

 

I don't think most people know this but it is fascinating. Boats all over the Americas, and for all I know all over the world, but definitely in Peru and Brazil in the Amazon, the Ucayali, the Jivari rivers, when the water is low, or when the water is very fast and currents are creating little dirt mountains just beneath the surface of the water, a big riverboat can be on a mile wide river and get stuck on a sandbar in the middle. How is that possible? It is because the currents run at different speeds and each one can displace soil or sand which builds up on either side of it. And some of those currents are strong enough to build up that sand or soil to be 150 feet tall, as deep as the deepest part of the Amazon so that a riverboat with a 6-foot draft will get stuck on that sand bar. And then the captain will order all 300 passengers to step off the boat -- and hopefully onto the sandbar, because if they miss it they will be in 150 foot deep water moving at 20 knots: See ya in the next life -- so that the boat can raise up a foot, get off the bar and be free. Then passengers can get back on the boat. I have been there and done that 20 or so times in my near four decades traveling in the jungle.
That is more than you wanted and more than I intended to share. What I wanted to share was that every riverboat in the US, Central America, and South America has a rope with a rock on the end of it. The rope has notches made by making knots in it. Some ropes have one foot knots, some one meter knots. But every single one of them, regardless of whether they are talking dialect, Spanish, or Portugese uses the phrase "Mark Twain!" when they drop the rock on the rope into the water to see how deep it is. It is the most wonderful thing to hear them calling -- in the English version -- mark the space between the boat and the river floor. I do not know who taught everybody but everybody is on the same page with it. And of course, Mark Twain called himself that for some reason. I suppose he worked the Mississippi or Ohio when he was young.

More on the Matsés Medicines Sapo and Nü-nü

 Someone asked two questions of FB messenger: The first was whether the Matses snuff nu-nu was the same as rapé, the word used for snuffs by gringos, and the second was whether the Matses or others killed the frogs when they collected the frog sweat from their skin that we call sapo or kambo. He's what I answered:

Nü-nü is a form of rapé, but it is the only snuff the matses traditionally made. All the camps had identical medicine: The inner bark of the cacao tree mixed with a larger weight of nicotiana rustica. Both reduced to ash. The tobacco on a split bamboo grill, low to the ground over a very controlled flame, and the cacao heated to ash with hot coals in a clay pot. Two hunters make it so that it has their essences in it.Only hunters serve each other because you want that power: The physical medicine is only half of its strength: The remainder comes from the server adding his, or on rare occasions her, spirit. As for the kambo, a word the Matsés learned from gringos in the last 5-8 years, I have never seen a frog hurt while in their care/possession. The frogs live mostly 20-30 feet high in thin trees that lean over small rivers. You have to climb the tree and cut the branch that the frog is sitting on from the tree, then climb down to the canoe with it. The frog will not go anywhere. You will be cruel to it in tying it up, but it should only take 10 minutes from when it's tied into a green trampoline until it is set free on a tree it likes and permitted to return to its home on the river. Since the frog sweat is the animal's protection, those people who collect it by taking it by hand will lose most of its best medicine before they ever extract. It must not be frightened. And once collected and extracted, it will have little rope burns around its ankles and wrists. That particular frog will not be caught again until those burn marks have completely healed. Collecting before that will produce a second rate product and leave the frog too vulnerable to tree snakes, who are almost all constrictors. I have never seen a Matses hurt a frog and I have not ever hurt a frog. Are they frightened? I'll bet they are. But if they could have an opinion I believe they would rather be frightened for 10 minutes a month than be tossed live into boiling water to make a soup like so many other animals are. There are some assholes out there, of course, who milk and milk the frogs and probably do them permanent damage or even kill them. But not the antigua matses I knew or the Matses who collect for me now.

Straightening out a bad account

 Someone on Facebook was misspeaking when talking about the indigenous, with whom I spent time annualy for the past 37 years. They called them "slavers". That did not sit with me so I straightened them out with this:

Hello, the book you refer to is mine. The context is that the Matses, until 1994, did not make canoes. They walked. They were famous for walking. But if they had to burn a village and leave they made balsa rafts. Those rafts only went downriver. If they wanted a canoe, or canoes, they either had to steal them or get someone to make the canoes for them. In my experience, which began with them in 1985, but I did not hit the Galvez river and several of their small camps until 1986, they would steal someone who made canoes, and near blind them so that they couldn't leave. They built homes for them across the river from the camp, provided them with women and food and anything else they needed from the jungle. They treated them well, considering... Those guys were generally called uncle whether in spanish when the Matses learned it (not many spoke it in the 1980s) or dialect. They were important to the camp. I think slaver is a very wrong word here. They took occasional slaves, just as they stole women to keep the blood lines fresh and strong. Most people in the deep jungle understand that this stuff happens. I know two Mestizo women who spent years as Matses wives after the Matses killed their families and dragged them off. It was not cool, but not unexpected. But "slaver" indicates a person or people who buy and sell humans, and that was nothing I saw in my time on the Galvez or Alto Jivari (months per year for 10 years) or my 27 additional years with the Matses -- part of each year -- in other locations.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Buy the damned book!!!!!

Covid has had me down. After months trying to recuperate from freaking pneumonia, which had my lungs locked up, which came after kidney and heart failure and freaking arthritis in my back, well, I am a survivor but I am not the happiest camper in this village. For two months I got back on my feet enough to write fantastic posts, finish one book, get the cookbook near done, and this week I started teaching a 10 day course in the preparation and serving of a serious jungle medicine to five wonderful people. I am teaching it with my daughter Madeleina and my near-son, son Devon and they are mf'ing magnificent. I could not have better associates. But I am still having trouble walking 40 steps, and when I do I have to put my hands on my knees for a couple of minutes to gather myself up to finish the walk to where we are holding the course. While teaching I have to be on point emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, but I don't have to jump around. If I did, I could not teach it. And last month and last week I could not have talked and taught for 2-3 hours daily before we get to the practical aspects of the course. Now I can, though walking is going to have to be relearned for the third time this freaking year. I pulled up my shorts last night and fell flat on my back. Cool, right? Not at all. I felt like the stupidest, weakest human god or whomever created. I can't even pull up my shorts? Fuck me.
Anyway, I am clear of the covid but I still cannot breathe. Dang, I am angry.
But hey, my new book, Magic Mushrooms in India and Other Fantastic Tales is out now, and it is a beauty. At $18 it will be a steal in terms of enriching your life to a few interesting stories from India, Morocco, New York City, and Peru. So buy the damned thing on Amazon, write wonderful reviews, pass the word, and help pay my medical bills!!!!!
You do get that this is not a request. It is much more direct than that. You now have a purpose in life. Order the book. Buy 10 copies for your friends. Become the sensation of your neighborhood. And if you do not like it, well..... that is not going to happen. Know why I know that? Because of all the meals I ever served to my family or in the restaurants over 18 years as a cook and a chef, not one single person, not one single person ever complained of getting food poisoning. And not one of you will be sorry you bought my little book of 12-13 stories (If you include the introduction). Promise. So do it. Now. Thanks.