Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Sound of Terror in Ferguson

This is the most gawdawful audio I think I've ever heard:

I couldn't hold back my own emotion as I listened to it.

Extreme. Exterminate. Horror.

This happened a couple of hours after the media was sent back to their quarters by the police staging point at about the time Captain Johnson was holding his 2:00am presser.

Ferguson Says: "We Hear You Negroes, Now Sit Down and Shut Up!"

Or be gassed and grenaded to Eternity.
Got that? Good.

The CNN Summer Riot Show

Followed immediately by a Summer Shark Story. Jeeze.

Not having cable and rarely watching network "news" I don't see this kind of coverage. Pulling it up online this morning was disorienting but also informative.

I was watching FOX2 and "I am Mike Brown" livestreams last night, and I could see something was going on down by Canfield Drive, and many police-troops were assembling there, shooting off teargas and what have you, but both of the livestreamers were a quarter mile away by the Ferguson Drive police line so you couldn't really tell what was going on down by Canfield Dr. You just knew it was "something."

CNN was there and was able to document some of what was happening. This is where the police claimed -- falsely in my opinion -- that the crowd had fired guns and threw Molotov cocktails at police. That isn't what is documented in the CNN video.

For one thing, there is no gunfire at all, not from the crowd, and not from the police, at least not that I can tell. There is an abundance of tear gas and grenades fired from the police line, however,  and many of the grenades are thrown back at the police. The grenades start small fires in the street, and that might be what the police are claiming is "Molotovs" -- I don't know. But there has been no evidence EVER that anyone in Ferguson has EVER thrown a Molotov cocktail at police. EVER.

Those who were closely following the uprising in Kiev saw numerous incidents of real Molotov cocktails being thrown at -- and hitting -- police and later in Odessa where Molotovs were thrown at the Trade Union Building, and they saw the results, which were awful. Nothing even remotely like that has happened in Ferguson. Instead, the police have repeatedly fired grenades -- smoke, flash-bang, and teargas -- at the crowds, often with no justification (except that there are a lot of Negroes out and about, and we can't have that), and members of the crowd have thrown them back at the police. Because the grenades often start fires or are on fire as they are being thrown, I believe those grenades being thrown back at the police are what they have called "Molotov cocktails."

CNN documented it, so that was good, but then their reporter Don Lemon suggested-hinted that the crowd was throwing Molotov cocktails, and no one -- like Jake Tapper -- who witnessed what was happening corrected him, so the impression is left that the crowd was throwing Molotovs when they weren't.

Meanwhile, the photographer's graphic testimony, that teargas was fired at him, hit him and went off at his feet choking him, and members of the crowd helped him, as there was no emergency services, contrasts sharply with the Official Story of "gunfire" directed at police. There was no evidence of any such thing, only statements by police. The evidence showed injury to this man, a photographer, hit by tear gas fired by police, nothing was fired at police, and members of the crowd helping the man down, not police or emergency services. Yet in the followon report, CNN merely repeats what police say, and pretty much ignore the direct testimony of the photographer.

This is propaganda, pure and simple. They will say they "reported" what really happened (by letting the photographer talk) but then they parrot the police.


Nobody Believes Him

A 2:00am - ish news conference featuring Magic Negro Captain Ron Johnson. After a police chaplain sends up prayers, the MN C Johnson speechifies for a few minutes, reading haltingly from a prepared text announcing any number of falsehoods, tells the media not to interfere with police (by blocking an attack on the crowd for example?) and then shows off guns "confiscated near the media area" and a bottle of Colt .45 with a rag stuffed in it, claiming it's a "Molotov cocktail" -- something neither media nor crowd members say they've never seen thrown despite numerous claims by police of being subjected to rocks, bottles, gunfire and Molotov cocktails.

IMO, he's lying. Nearly everything he says is a lie from the moment he starts opening his mouth.

And then he ends it with an emotional plea to the media to work with the police to control and suppress the crowds -- rather than stand between the crowd and a roided and armored up police line like they did last night.

MN C Johnson repeats the constant litany of "outside agitators", "gunfire directed at police," "Molotov cocktails thrown at police," and "assaults on police" (who cry because they aren't allowed to whack some Negroes because of it) none of which has been witnessed by members of the crowd or the media.

It's all a fantasy/litany of tropes from the urban riot play book, and that's not, obviously, what's going on in Ferguson, as any honest reporter from within the crowds has documented. There have been repeated reports of "gunfire" that turn out not to have happened at all or to have been fireworks. There have been endless reports by the police of "Molotov cocktails" thrown at police that appear to be completely false, as there has never been -- NEVER BEEN -- any evidence whatsoever of any such thing happening. NONE. Nobody has ever documented a thrown Molotov cocktail, not one. The beer bottle displayed by MN C Johnson early this morning appeared to be partly filled with beer. You can't make a Molotov out of it. Every thrown bottle that's been witnessed by crowd or media is a plastic water bottle, either empty or with water in it, and they are few and far between, mostly launched by individuals in the center or back of a crowd, and who are widely believed to be plants, provocateurs.

The assaults and attacks -- from Day One -- have all been by police.

All of them.

The media has been in the midst of many of these attacks, as they were last night, but there were things going on that they were forbidden to see, areas they were prohibited from accessing, and last night, after the police line swept the area on W. Florissant between Ferguson and Canfield Drive, the media was ordered to leave and reassemble at the police command post at the Target parking lot on the Ferguson/Jennings border. They did so, and as they did, they knew there was something going on near the Quick Trip, but they couldn't see or document it. Tear gas had been fired, and there were many, many police and riot control vehicles down there, but that's not where the crowd had been. It is where "gunshots" were declared to have been fired, but there was no way to know. Someone was declared to have been wounded and was brought by private car to the police line at Ferguson Dr, very dramatically, during the standoff with police earlier in the evening, directly in front of the media scrum, but then he got out of the car and walked into the police control area and to the back of an armored vehicle. No ambulance was on scene, and so far as could be seen, no emergency vehicle transported this supposedly wounded person.

These details are noticed, and there is more and more skepticism of police accounts of "riot" in the streets of Ferguson.

Much of what's happening appears to be staged. And why not? This morning, MN C Johnson claimed that "outside agitators" from New York and California had been arrested. Some wag at the presser asked -- "were they media?" Numerous media personnel have been arrested, and many of their headquarters are in New York and California, so the question was reasonable. Further, the drama of the continual evidence-free announcements by police is very much a factor New York/California cop shows.

The lies and deceptions just keep piling up, day after day, night after night, and by now nobody much believes Captain Johnson or much of anything the police and authorities say.

Something else is going on, and I wonder if we'll get a better idea of what it is after Labor Day -- which seems to be the calendar's pivot point since 9/11.

Monday, August 18, 2014

I Saw The Most Amazing Thing

The police were inciting the crowd on W. Florissant, forming a line of gas-masked and roided-up officers, bringing up the armored cars, launching sound-cannon, ordering dispersal of the crowd, and threatening dire consequences. The crowd became angry, but community monitors were moving them back away from the police line. When the police continued to threaten and acted like they were going to use tear gas, the media -- dozens of them -- moved in, directly between the crowd and the police, and they stayed there no matter the threats and loud sounds. They stayed, and they protected the crowd, whether they meant to or not, they did.

The police stayed in their line, they did not advance on the people. They did not fire tear gas. They sent one of their vehicles to a side street and another went to the middle of the block.

People refused to leave, but they were not violent, despite the incitement by the police. There may have been a few water bottles thrown at the police line but nothing more.

The media's action prevented another night of police riot.

Who'd a thunk.

Of course it's early yet...

Police Rioted In Ferguson Again Last Night -- Governor Calls Out The Guard

What I saw last night was that thousands of people took to the streets of Ferguson, MO, to march and chant and carry signs in solidarity honoring Michael Brown and to make a very clear statement: "Stop Killing Us." It was by far the biggest demonstration yet, and it was as multi-racial, multi-cultural, and as inclusive as any I've seen in Ferguson to date.

There appeared to be several marches converging on W. Florissant, thousands of people coming from several directions toward what has become the central symbolic focus of the town, the "town square" if you will, the burnt out QT market and gas station, where much of Ferguson's sense of community has been expressed and solidified over the ten days or so since Michael Brown was shot down in the street nearby.

I stepped away from my computer to do other things -- one does have other things to do after all -- and when I returned about an hour later, I was confronted on the livestreams with a line of roided-up police and armored vehicles, behind which the media cameras were assembled ("Stay behind the yellow line and you'll be all right") while blasts from the sound cannon were directed at a good sized group of demonstrators some distance away. So far as I could tell, the demonstrators were... demonstrating. "Peacefully." In the sense that they were not doing anything untoward at all, simply marching in the streets expressing solidarity with one another and being blasted by sound cannon, while media, far away, looked on apprehensively.

I was watching the "I Am Mike Brown" and FOX 2 livestreams simultaneously. They showed similar views from behind police lines, and there was no commentary with either most of the time.

[NBC News compilation of stories and pictures...]

And then the tear gas and smoke grenades started being launched, and the police line moved at a slow and steady pace at the crowd of demonstrators, firing tear gas, flash bangs and what not the while.

For what?

It was more than an hour before the ostensible curfew at midnight, and so far as I could tell, the crowd was not violent or even particularly belligerent. They were loud and boisterous and determined, however, even in the face of sound cannon and what I'm sure they could tell was a coming assault and riot by police.

They were targets and they knew it, and they stood brave and tall.

"No justice, no peace!"

I watched the police riot for an hour or so, and saw and heard a roided up police officer threaten Mustafa Hussain of Argus Radio ("I Am Mike Brown") with summary execution for turning on a light behind police lines, and I knew things could only devolve from that point. I turned it all off and went to bed. Had horrible dreams.

They rioted again. The police rioted again against peaceful, determined demonstrators. They assaulted, gassed, and some say shot demonstrators in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, yet again, and now, according to reports I haven't yet had time to read, the Governor has called in the National Guard.

None of this would be happening or be considered necessary by the Powers That Be if:

  • if Michael Brown hadn't been shot down in the street and left dead in that street for hours afterwards.

  • if authorities had not immediately responded with dogs and assault rifles to community anger and anguish at the initial killing and mistreatment of the body and the insult to the community

  • if police had not set out to suppress subsequent demonstrations with force 

  • if authorities had been forthcoming with information about the shooter and the investigation 

  • if the mostly white authorities had shown the least bit of respect for the people of Ferguson as a community rather than treating them as targets for their weapons.

  • This is well beyond the assholitry and incompetence of any number of named officials -- we all know who they are by now. The situation in Ferguson, and the adamant refusal of officials to address the serious concerns of the community except with violence and suppression, and their ostensible adherence to the importance of "procedure" above all, is surreal.

    The violence of the police started this sequence of events and the violence of the police has kept it in motion ever since.

    I saw a tweet or heard something last night (I don't remember which) that suggested that the police riot last night was triggered when a woman was shot several times in front of one of the stores on Ferguson -- I believe it was Sam's Meat Market. The police apparently blamed the shooting on someone in the crowd, while members of the crowd nearby blamed the police, saying the police had shot her four times. She was said to have been transported to the hospital by someone in the crowd, not by any form of emergency services on scene. In fact, during the police assault on the crowd, I did not see any evidence of Emergency Services on scene to care for anyone who might be injured in the assault, whether police or demonstrators. In the past, authorities have falsely claimed that "no one was injured" in previous police riots/assaults, when obviously many were injured.

    Later on, as the police riot continued, the PIO for St. Louis County Police (often the bad actors in previous police riots) stated that he could confirm that "shots were fired" and "fire was being taken" and the media may have to disperse for their own safety. Of course the immediate question was "who was firing, who was taking shots?" There was no answer.

    And now the Guard has been called out, presumptively a declaration of martial law, but I haven't checked this morning's reports yet.

    Jeebus this sucks.

    And I put full and complete responsibility on Authority. There is no excuse.

    Sunday, August 17, 2014

    Is This the Killer Standing Over Michael Brown's Body?

    Moments after Michael Brown was shot

    Some pictures of Darren Wilson, Michael Brown's killer, have surfaced on the Internet:

    I'd say the similarities are pretty strong. 

    The first picture was taken and posted by TheePharoah moments after he witnessed the shooting outside his apartment. 

    Looks to me like it's the same officer, and though the image is fuzzy, there might still be a smoking gun in the officer's right hand.
    Thanks to Teri49 this is video shot from above directly after Michael Brown was killed by Officer Wilson, seen on the right. 

    It seems to me that the shopkeeper who was robbed was a hell of a lot braver than this coward, and that goes triple for all the roided up officers deployed against the good people of Ferguson subjected to night after night of police riot and terror.

    Saturday, August 16, 2014

    Judas Goats and Southern Gothic

    He sweated and fidgeted. The pudgy little potbellied white man poked at his sweaty upper lip and a mosquito bit at his forehead while he made remarks before assembled media flanked by roided up white men in uniform, his "force." In the morning, he said there had been some kind of strongarming reported at the Stop and Rob down the street from the burnt out Quik-Trick where he was holding forth in the parking lot. It was on the day, he said, a few minutes before that young Negro was shot and killed in the middle of Canfield Street, too bad for him, we're so sorry for his loved ones. Sure we are. Really!

    There was a strongarming reported from the market, a 911 call, and one of our officers was sent out to investigate, and our other officer was just leaving a sick call, the pudgy little sweaty little fidgety man said in the broiling sun out front of the QuikTrip ruin, and he came upon these Negro boys out walking in the middle of the road and he...

    Something, something, fidget fidget, and one of the Negroes got shot and then he was dead. Some cigars were reported stolen from the Stop and Rob, and then the Negro boy was dead. Here are some pictures; here is the police report.

    Oh, and the officer who shot the Negro boy was named something-something, what was that? Oh yeah, fidget fidget, Darren, Wilson, something something, but don't forget the robbery. The Negro boy and his friend were the prime suspects. The one that got dead. In the middle of the street. Fidget. "'Bye!"

     This one:

    But later on, the fidgety little sweaty man would come out with his phalanx of white cops, all bigger and roider and stoic and shit, and say, "Well, you know that robbery that we reported to you at your request had nothing to do with the encounter Our Brave Officer had with those Negroes.  What would make you think it did? A-henh." Fidget. "Oh, and you know that Negro boy who got shot? He was holding the box of cigars he stole from the Stop and Rob..."


    Ron Johnson, the Highway Patrol Captain appointed by the Governor to calm things down in Ferguson, was blind-sided by the pudgy little sweaty man, and he knew it. In fact, everybody was blindsided. That was the point of his fidgeting, that and incitement. Get those Negroes riled up and then see what happens. Show you a thing or two, just watch.

    Sure enough.

    Overnight, according to reports I'm just checking out, there were protests in the rain, and then everybody went home and the police withdrew, and then... just like clockwork, the looters arrived and struck the store where Michael Brown is said to have stolen those cigars, and they struck nearby businesses, and they made off with plenty of loot. Armloads. And then they went down to the WalMart, so it's said, and took more loot.

    The people of Ferguson have been going around town cleaning up the mess and hauling away the trash and expressing their outrage to the local FOX station -- which has been doing a good job covering the situation in Ferguson, much better and more fairly and honestly and directly than most of the other St. Louis media -- at what these "outsiders" are doing to their community.


    We've seen this pattern so many times before.

    The word is that the police "withdrew" last night when the crowds of protesters were gone -- 4am? -- and that left an opening for the looters to swoop in. It sounds almost as if it were arranged...

    Knowing the duplicity of the players and the nature of the game being played, with the people of Ferguson as pawns, it wouldn't be at all surprising if the events have been as carefully arranged as on a chess-board for the purpose of achieving a particular outcome.

    Even I sometimes forget the Southern-ness of Missouri, and particularly of St. Louis, and the Gothic rotting nature of it all. The story is playing out as if it were a Southern Gothic novel, and no one seems able to stop it...

    I worried that Ron Johnson might be a Judas goat, and he might be, but more likely he's being played like one of the pawns in somebody else's game.

    As for the sweaty little fidget man? He, too, might be a rook in someone else's game.

    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio...

    Friday, August 15, 2014


    I haven't been writing here much lately in part because so many of the events of the last week have been so overwhelming, draining, and frankly appalling.

    The murder-by-cop of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, was shocking to anyone with a shred of conscience, and we saw over and over again that the powers that be in St. Louis simply had no shred of conscience, compassion, or simple human decency.

    From the moment young Brown was shot down in the street by a still unnamed Ferguson cop who seemingly was completely out of control, apparently the only concern of those Powers,  was to keep those Negroes suppressed.

    At first they called it "crowd control," and they got the dogs and the riot gear out, and the police stormed and stomped around to frighten and intimidate the onlookers, the witnesses to the killing, and the family of Mike Brown in actions that didn't surprise anyone who's been paying attention, but which certainly shocked anyone with a grain of empathy in their souls.

    The dead body of Mike Brown was left bleeding out in the street for hours and hours that awful Saturday, while police chased away family members and went around confiscating cell-phone cameras and other potential evidence.

    There were dozens of witnesses, but the man who was with Mike Brown and was closest to the murder when it happened was somehow ignored in the media rush to find some excuse for the police behavior. Oh, he was interviewed by media shortly after the killing, but only the CBC in Canada put his statement on the air, and others who had things to say about what they saw were largely invisible for days while the police issued statement after statement that seemed patently false or protective of the officer without regard for truth or justice.

    The people of Ferguson were understandably upset at the official stonewalling, lying, and wagon circling. They were "allowed" a bit of "space" to gather in the streets to protest, but on Sunday that protest turned into what has been deemed a "riot" during which a number of businesses were looted and one was burned. The one that was burned, the convenience store at the Quick Trip gas station down the street from the site of Mike Brown's murder, was where there were initial claims that Mike Brown had "stolen a cigar." But it turned out that no such claim had been made by the proprietors. It was one of many false rumors that were circulating in Ferguson in the first hours and days after Mike Brown's homicide, rumors apparently intended to impugn the young man's character so as to more easily justify his summary execution.

    Yet even on Sunday, as the "riot" progressed, there were suspicions that provocateurs were at work and the looting and burning going on sporadically in the community was not an expression of spontaneous rage at all. No, even then, the "riot" was being seen by many in Ferguson as the work of agents of chaos, not the people. The burning of the Quick Trip convenience store was even attributed to the proprietor as a means to obtain insurance money. The "riot" itself was seen as a means to distract attention from the killing of Mike Brown and put the focus and the onus on the community because it's largely black and working class and supposedly gang-ridden.

    In other words to make it seem that Mike Brown's death-by-cop was a natural consequence of the innate criminality of the residents.

    There was an immediate and strong push-back by those residents and the family of Mike Brown. They denounced the violence, and they wanted answers from the authorities, answers which were not and so far are not forthcoming.

    In fact, it seemed that everything was being done by those authorities to cover up what had happened, to blame the victim, and to control the mob of angry Negroes.

    It was a scene out of the brutal South of yore. It was absurd. It was terrifying. It was wrong.

    As protests continued, the authorities, who I took to calling the Cowards of the County, escalated their repressive measures, until finally on Wednesday night, while people were in the streets demonstrating non-violently, a military-style operation was launched against them. It was the kind of thing we've seen over and over again, especially since Occupy suppression in 2011 and 2012, in which police deploy overwhelming military-style force against angry but generally non violent citizens and residents for the purpose of instilling terror.

    Wednesday night's operations were even more outrageous than other similar instances in that it was entirely uncalled for. There was no violence, no riot, no effort on the part of the people to do anything but let their presence and outrage at the actions of Authority be seen and known as widely as possible. They defied repeated orders to disperse sufficiently quickly and thoroughly enough to be subjected to a terroristic operation in which assault vehicles were deployed, snipers positioned, machine guns were trained on the crowd and individuals "painted" with laser targets, and ultimately sound-weapons, tear gas, grenades and rubber bullets among other ordnance were deployed liberally by camo-fatigued "troops" "sweeping" the streets with automatic weapons pointed in battle array.

    It was an absurd level of overkill, and it was promptly and forcefully denounced by military veterans who pointed out that even in the overseas war-zones where they'd served, they weren't as armored up as the St. Louis County and other police in Ferguson were (there were said to be 15 police agencies deployed in Ferguson on Wednesday under the command of St. Louis County police) and they were forbidden to go through the streets firing weapons or even pointing them at citizens and residents.

    As was pointed out by Ferguson residents and as was obvious to anyone watching more than the national news about what was happening, the police were, time after time and essentially from the beginning, starting with the murder of Mike Brown itself, the ones instigating and precipitating violence, not the citizens and residents of Ferguson.

    The police were using violent tactics against nonviolent protest. They were apparently attempting to incite violence by the protesters so as to excuse their own violent behavior in suppressing the protests. It was stark and appalling and for those who saw more than the national news about it, the tactics were obvious.

    As it happened, a number of media workers were directly subjected to those tactics, including arrest, tear gassing and being told to "leave the area," and to "shut off cameras." A Huffington Post reporter and a Washington Post reporter were hustled out of a McDonald's restaurant by camo-fatigued police and arrested -- apparently for not moving fast enough to suit the officers. A St. Louis alderman was pulled out of his car by camo-fatigued officers, arrested and held overnight in jail, apparently for "being there" and bearing witness to what was going on. An Al Jazeera news team was tear gassed and their equipment dismantled -- apparently because they were bearing witness and broadcasting/recording what was happening. Other independent media were fired on, gassed, and threatened throughout Wednesday's operations.

    This does not sit well with media types, and there was an immediate outcry.

    Apparently, the outcry reached the Attorney General's office in Washington, and even the President on vacation on Martha's Vinyard became aware.

    Something had to change.

    And it did. Literally overnight.

    Eric Holder issued one of his harshest and most direct statements yet regarding police action and misconduct, practically ordering the Ferguson and St. Louis regional police apparatus to change its behavior toward the people of Ferguson immediately.

    The President came out from socializing on Martha's Vinyard to suggest that things were a bit out of hand in Ferguson, and they ought to cool it.

    The Governor of Missouri who had been absent through the turmoil showed himself in town talking with the faith community.

    Senator Claire McCaskill showed up to say that the militarized response to the protests was inappropriate and doing more harm than good.

    Then the Governor held a press conference at which he announced that the St. Louis County Police Department, which apparently had been in charge of the armored response to the public outcry was being relieved of duty for policing protests in Ferguson, and that the State Highway Patrol would henceforth be the lead agency in command. A captain named Ron Johnson would be in charge. There would be changes made in the approach to the people and a different tone would be set going forward.

    So let it be written, so let it be done.

    And so it was.

    Captain Ron Johnson became a rock star within seconds of his appointment. He said he would be out on the streets and so he was, leading a march down W. Florissant Avenue, talking with the people, wearing a casual uniform without even a hat -- let alone a helmet -- and bringing with him a number of other officers also in casual uniforms, all of whom mingled with the people and respected their dignity and their rights. '

    Armored backup was staged some distance away, but it was never deployed during the boisterous protest/party (hashtag #Partest) proceedings yesterday and last night.  Police kept their distance and didn't interfere despite the fact that thousands of people were on the streets until late into the night, and cars honked their horns incessantly as they passed by what has become the community gathering grounds at the burned out QuickTrip gas and market.

    There were constant reports on the scanners of gunfire in the area, but the one incident that could be confirmed indicated that a man accidentally shot himself in the leg. Others turned out to be fireworks. Some were apparently bogus. There were a couple of incidents of fighting or assault and battery reported -- and confirmed -- but in each, the victims were promptly cared for, and the fights broken up by #Partest participants. There was no necessity, in other words, for police involvement in these incidents, and so far as I know, police were not involved.

    They stayed well in the background, and in one case I'm aware of, they were "invited" to leave the McDonald's parking lot. Which they did.

    The #Partest wound down some hours after I went to bed, apparently without incident.

    The people of Ferguson used the opportunity last night to celebrate liberation from a brutal military-style occupation, and used the opportunity to dialogue with one another about what needs to be done to improve the situation and deal with the issue of police misconduct in the specific case of Michael Brown's murder but in the broader context of policing and civil society as well.

    It was transformative.

    There were dozens of solidarity demonstrations around the country last night as well. Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people turned out in city after city for a National Moment of Silence observance to honor the memory of Michael Brown and everyone who has been a victim of police brutality and murder. Thousands showed up in St. Louis at the park in front of the Old Court House facing the Gateway Arch, and at 6:20pm, they raised their hands in common cause, in the now iconic gesture based on reports of Michael Brown's upraised hands as he was shot dead: "Hands Up! Don't Shoot!" All over the country, thousands and thousands of people were doing the same thing at the same moment.

    In city after city, people marched and declared their solidarity with the people of Ferguson, and with the many thousands of named and nameless victims of police brutality everywhere.

    The optics changed radically overnight.

    And perhaps today behavior will change.

    Tuesday, August 12, 2014

    What A Weekend

    Wild? Not so much for us, no, but the sense that things are spiraling ever more out of control into disruption and chaos can't be avoided.

    There was the continuing turmoil in Africa, Ukraine and the Middle East, of course, deadly turmoil that's become a litany of grief backgrounding practically everything else. It's still far enough away that we can pretend it has little or no effect on our everyday do-dah lives, but it has been going on so long, and it has been so bloody and vicious the mind and soul reels. That Our Rulers think it quite divine is sickening; that Western governments for the most part are the instigators and funders and suppliers of the ongoing misery is worse. And worst of all is the fact that we, the Rabble, seem to have no influence at all on the course of events playing out before us.

    That's been true for many long years now.

    In a northern suburb of St. Louis, MO, a young man named Michael Brown was shot dead by a police officer, apparently for the crime of walking while Black. We know this crime well in the United States of Goddamn, for it has been something of a truism from the nation's founding that if you're Black, get back. Do what the officer says, and you might get hurt a little less than otherwise. You mouth off and you get shot.

    What happened in this case, I don't know. The fellow who was with Brown was interviewed by CBC and he described the incident in chilling detail. They were walking in the middle of the street. An officer pulled up beside them and told them to get on the sidewalk. They said they were near their destination and they would be out of the street momentarily. The officer continued on his way, the young men continued on their way. The officer suddenly backed up his vehicle and nearly hit Brown and his friend as he maneuvered the vehicle to cut off both lanes of the street. The officer suddenly opened the door of his vehicle, right into the legs of the young men, and when they didn't move or fall, the officer fell back into the car. The officer grabbed Brown by neck and then the arm and tried to pull him into the car. Brown resisted. The officer pulled his gun and said "I'll shoot you," and fired inside the vehicle. Brown was apparently hit but he escaped. From the account, it's not entirely clear whether Brown or the officer was hit, however. The officer got out of the car with his gun drawn and pursued Brown. He shot Brown once (again). Brown turned to face the officer with his hands up and fell to his knees wounded. The officer continued to approach Brown, firing his weapon as he did. Brown fell dead on the street.

    It's an absolutely chilling account of a summary execution in the street in front of an apartment complex in Ferguson, Missouri, an account that has been backed up by many witnesses. Essentially, what is reported in the interview is what most of them saw. A police officer firing at a wounded young man on his knees who's hands were in the air. Oh my god in heaven. When will this madness end?

    Needless to say, Brown's family and citizens and residents of Ferguson were upset. They protested. Rumors flew. There were more protests, and the police formed cordons, got the dogs out, got their riot gear on and threatened the protesters. Some of them looted a number of stores and burned another -- the site where Brown was at first was alleged to have stolen a cigar (though the accusation has since been withdrawn).

    There were continuing protests yesterday at the Ferguson police headquarters. Police cordons continued and arrests were made, apparently arbitrarily (at least from what I saw).  There were town hall meetings and further protests yesterday, while the police continued their cordoning and blank faces in the midst of growing resident anger.

    The FBI announced a parallel investigation into what happened to Brown and pundits expressed their views, mostly defending the police and condemning the "rioters."

    Anger grew, and last night there was more unrest in Ferguson; tear gas was fired and more arrests were made.

    From what I could tell, the primary issue was that people were fed up with the cops and the impunity by which they were able to get away with such actions as the summary execution of Michael Brown in the streets of their town. They wanted and demanded, justice. The blank faces of authority not only denied them their demands, they enforced a strange code of justice that presumed those making demands to be at fault for their own arbitrary treatment by authority.

    According to the iron protocols of police culture, the victim is always at fault. The officer, never.

    Of course, this is the very same protocol used by Israel in its continuing conflict with the Palestinian  prisoners of Gaza and the West Bank. The victims, the Palestinians, are always at fault; the Israelis, never.

    They are supported by the government of the United States -- which tends to parrot Israeli talking points word for word, and which supplies the weapons that are used by Israel against the Palestinians.

    We see the same dynamic and rhetoric in the Ukrainian conflict, with the added Israeli twist of calling protests and  resistance "terrorists."

    This weekend marked the 50th Anniversary Reunion of PCPA Theatrefest Alumni. Ms Ché and I were both part of the PCPA Company for eight seasons over ten years, from the early 70s to the early 80s, and we would have liked to have been at the reunion, but it was not to be. The trip out to California was a bit too much for me still.

    On the other hand, we are getting reports from a friend who is there and the Facebook page has been filling up with photos and stories and memorabilia, so there is that vicarious connection. It's nice to see that so many folks from Our Day -- 30-40 years ago -- are still alive.  This is good.

    Then again, I learned one of the PCPA folks from Back When died yesterday. Robin Williams was only there one summer, in 1973 and was cast in "The Music Man" and "Caucasian Chalk Circle." It was our first season there, and Williams made quite an impression on us and practically everyone else that summer. He was a free spirit, wild and full of mischief. He was easily one of the nicest people and one of the funniest people to assemble that summer, but he was so hard to tame he was something of a challenge for directors and occasionally for other cast members. There was a dark undercurrent behind his humor and mischief, though, and we learned some things about him and his life that were not so happy. I don't remember the details, but they were serious enough to elicit a good deal of empathy.

    I don't know whether he was invited to attend the Anniversary Gala last night. I hope so, but we haven't received a report yet on last night's festivities, so we don't know the full story.

    When I found out he'd died,  after thinking about all those people who were still alive, it was a stark reminder of our mutual mortality.

    Rest in peace. For Robin and for so very many others who have passed on this Blood Summer...

    Saturday, August 9, 2014

    "We Had No Money."

    Another excerpt from the Scroll version of "On the Road:"
    Neal hadn’t mentioned money. “Where are we going to stay?” We wandered around carrying our bundles of rags in the narrow streets. Everybody looked like a broken-down movie extra, a withered starlet, disenchanted stunt-men, midget auto racers, poignant California characters with their end-of-the-continent sadness, handsome decadent Casanovish men, puffy-eyed motel blondes, hustlers, pimps, whores, masseurs, bellhops, a lemon lot and how’s a man going to make a living with a gang like that. Nevertheless Louanne had been around these people -- this is O’Farrell and Powell and thereabouts -- and a grayfaced hotel clerk let us have a room on credit. That was the first step. Then we had to eat, and didn’t do so till midnight when we found a niteclub singer in her hotel room who turned an iron upside down on a coathanger in the wastebasket and warmed up a can of pork & beans. I looked out the window at the winking neons; and said to myself “Where is Neal and why isn’t he concerned about our welfare?” I lost faith in him that year. It was our last meet, no more. I stayed in San Francisco a week and had the beatest time of my life. Louanne and I walked around for miles looking for food-money, we even visited some drunken seamen in a flophouse on Mission street that she knew; they offered us whiskey. In the hotel we lived together two days. I realized that now Neal was out of sight Louanne had no real interest in me; she was trying to reach Neal through me, his buddy. We had arguments in the hotel room. We also spent entire nights in bed and I told her my dreams. I told her about the big snake of the world that was coiled in the earth like a worm in an apple and would someday nudge up a hill to be thereafter known as Snake Hill and fold out upon the plain, fifty miles long and devouring as it went along. I told her this snake was Satan.
    This was Kerouac's version of San Francisco (aka "'Frisco" -- obviously not from around there) in 1949 or 50 when he managed to write this part of the Scroll after returning to the World or New York, Queens where his mother lived.

    Oh, I know those streets very well, O'Farrell and Powell, Larkin, Hyde and Geary, and down into the Mission and wherever you might want to go on Market Street; Columbus and Broadway and Mason and Grant, too.

    I lived in San Francisco for a while, not long, a year or so, but I found that I reacted poorly to the urban-ness of it, the tight-packing of people, the poverty of so many, the jangling noises of the streets, the hubbub of it all. So as soon as it was feasible, I was gone, with a pretty loud "whew!" and commenced traveling all over the country, never staying anywhere for more than a few months at a time until much later in my life.

    San Francisco, though, was in my blood, and even if I didn't want to live there again, it became a routine destination stop, a day trip, a Place to go. Our friends who lived there would very rarely venture out of it, and as was the case with Angeleños down the Coast, or Manhattanites back East, they were fiercely and proudly ignorant of anything outside their tight and right little peninsula or plain or island. Beyond the borders of their ken, there was no there there, as Gertrude Stein so apocryphally but truly wrote about Oakland across the Bay. It simply wasn't a Place. Not to a San Franciscan, not to someone who hardly ever traveled beyond the Ferry Building and may never have even been there, at least not before the Earthquake and the destruction of the Embarcadero Freeway which cut off the iconic survivor of the 1906 Earthquake from the City.

    When Kerouac arrived in San Francisco the second time, with Neal Cassady and Neal's wife Louanne, he was -- according to his account in "On the Road," which should be taken with a grain of salt -- confronted with the starkness of the City, and it is a stark place to be when you have... nothing or at least no money. It was even then, in 1949 or 50, an expensive place to be, merely because it was a city, and for constantly broke people like Kerouac and Cassady, it was even tougher. The area where they wound up, the Tenderloin, was then as now filled with bums and hobos and con-artists and police, with sharks and their prey.

    In "The Dharma Bums" Kerouac writes about being homeless a lot, using that term "homeless" almost as we would use it today, though he doesn't mean "the homeless community to be served by NGOs" and such as is the case now. He wasn't actually homeless, in that he could and did return to his mother's place anytime he wanted, but he had no home of his own. In "The Dharma Bums" his homelessness, staying with others, is one of the points of the novel and the quest for enlightenment he is on. As a bhikku, he cannot have a home of his own in any case, only "resting places," mostly found through the kindness of friends and strangers.

    So it is in his magnum opus, "On the Road," except there's no pretense of a Dharmic adventure. That is to say, Kerouac wasn't aware of it at that time. He and Neal and all the rest are on the road without money or with so little money they might as well have none, and they have their adventures on the down low in the multiple senses of the phrase cruising the underbelly of America picking up hitchhikers and stealing much of what they need at a time when that underbelly was largely ignored by most Americans, basking as Americans were in PostWar VictoryGlory, and setting out to settle down in spanking new suburbs with a DeSoto in the driveway and crisp frills on the daughter, rough denim on the boy playing in the dusty yard with the dog.

    "On the Road" was written or drafted before widespread television acquisition, but what would come is prefigured. There were enough televisions by the late '40s and early '50s to start making a dent in the mindset of Americans, and by the time "On the Road" was published after several revisions in 1957, television was ubiquitous.

    One of the unintended effects of television was that it kept people at home. They didn't go out as much; they didn't go anywhere as much as they used to, so a story like "On the Road," when it came out in 1957, was exotic and peculiar and worrisome and wonderful to people who had never even imagined much beyond what they saw on the idiot box and in their own yards and neighborhoods.

    Those without homes, the bums and hobos and Dharmic wanderers as well as the con-men that preyed on them, and the Beats as Kerouac and his set came to be known, were hardly considered at all, but when they were, it was as images rather than as people. The Beats were made into A Thing. Commercial. Movies and publishing and underground coffee houses and bars. Poetry that puzzled and howled. Jazz. Bebop. Then the Thing became another Thing.

    And "On the Road."

    The images are now permanent psychic messages. The subjects of entire libraries of scholarly research. Pilgrimages by devotees and acolytes on quests to find the Dharmic Truth of Kerouac's life, or of Burroughs or Ginsberg or Cassady or whomever. The Beats became a Lifestyle and then there would be a paradigm shift when the Rucksack Revolution that Gary Snyder anticipated became a reality in the 60s, and nothing would be quite the same again.

    Now that I'm old and have settled down somewhat, I look back on my years of traveling, my peripatetic wanderings on the road, back and forth, back and forth, here and there, vanishing, appearing, darting from place to place, with a kind of awe and wonder. I did that? Most people never do. I say I lived in Sacramento for 50 years or more, but thinking back, I realize I was on the road constantly, peripatetic wandering even when supposedly settled down. I wasn't settled down. Not at all.

    We lived in this house in Sacramento for 20 some-odd years, longer than any place else in my whole life by far, and yet thinking back, I wasn't there all that much because I was traveling so often for work or for pleasure or just because, and one of my constant destinations -- at least after 1982 -- was New Mexico.

    Kerouac noted on his own wanderings that New Mexico had been the site of the first atom bomb test. And he saw a vision as he passed by Alamogordo:
    "This Is the Impossibility of the Existence of Anything"
    Channeling Oppenheimer?

    We've made it a point to go out to Trinity Site where Kerouac never was to pay our respects.  

    But that's about as far as we get these days. An occasional day trip within New Mexico to some location with meaning or amusement, then back to rest up for the next one. We go to see the cranes out at the Bosque del Apache, even though they've been coming around to see us, roosting just down the street in the daytime. The Bosque and Socorro and Las Vegas and Trinity... not to forget Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

    But not so much anymore.

    Friday, August 8, 2014

    Between the Bombs

    August 6 was Hiroshima Day, tomorrow, August 9, is Nagasaki Day. Two atomic bombings at the end of World War II, authorized by the new president Harry S Truman, bombings which instantly incinerated some 130,000 to 200,000 people and led to the radiation poisoning of hundreds of thousands more. Also the obliteration of large portions of two cities, neither of which was particularly active in the War. Oh well. So it goes.

     It's also the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI, The War to End Wars...

    We have an image of what the atom bombings were like that may not align with the testimony of survivors, in part because atomic weapons were and are intended as terror weapons. Their potentials for wholesale destruction and misery are highlighted in order to inspire fear and terror in domestic and "enemy" populations alike. Those of us of a certain age have been conditioned to believe that no survival is possible from a nuclear attack; it would not just be the End of the World As We Know It, it would be the end of everything forever and ever amen. There would be and could be no survivors, at all, for all time to come. Well, maybe a few...

    This Democracy Now! episode from 2011 links the atomic bombings of Japan with the Fukushima disaster -- which seems to be getting worse, not better.

    Those who survived the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, perhaps 30% to 50% of the populations of those cities, can testify to how awful the bombings were. Many of those in positions of authority and power at the time have testified that the atom bombings were not necessary from a military point of view. They were egregious terror bombings meant more to cow the Japanese population and government and to put The Fear into the Soviets than anything else. Japan surrendered shortly after the atom bombings. The Soviet Union and the United States never got into a hot war with one another -- though there were many through proxies during the so called Cold War -- in part thanks to the fear of what a hot war with nuclear weapons would do to human kind.

    Now, though, there is what looks like a growing contingent of folks who believe that not only would a nuclear war be survivable for a significant number of people, it might be desirable to have an all out nuclear war, in order to 1) reduce global populations by a substantial degree -- but not eliminate the species; 2) demonstrate that the fear of nuclear war was exaggerated during the Cold War; 3) assert dominance over the globe by whoever survives and "wins" a nuclear war, and 4) prove once and for all that as bad as nuclear war is, it's not as bad as extinction due to global warming or an asteroid hit or something like that.

    Fewer people overall and dominance by a select group who survive because they protect themselves from nuclear weapons and their consequences seem to be the objectives of those who believe a nuclear war is survivable. As I recall, the madman Donald Rumsfeld pursued the idea back in the day. He seemed to become convinced that nuclear war was survivable when he was a young man in the 1950s.

    As this Blood Summer continues to careen into the abyss, more and more voices are raised against the madness. Even some of the elites who have made such a mess of things seem to realize that there are catastrophic, indeed apocalyptic, consequences inherent in continuing on the path of bloodshed on so many fronts in so many lands.

    The Gaza conflict has resumed as talks broke down in Cairo. Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, and large parts of sub-Saharan Africa are enveloped in chaos and bloodshed.

    Is this a prelude to something worse? Many people can't help but think so.

    And if it is?

    Another Officer Involved Killing in Albuquerque

    In this case, it was a Bernalillo County Sheriff's deputy who shot the man. There is video of the incident from a surveillance camera. It's a frightening and violent encounter.

    The man's ex-girlfriend seems to agree that he "needed killing."

    The way these things tend to go, this event will be used by some to justify most or all police shootings.

    Because someone has been a threat or might pose a threat or because the officer 'feared for his life,' any use of force by police has long been considered justified on its face.

    The problem in this case is that after the man had rammed his girlfriend's car, had tried to run her down,  and had rammed the deputy's car twice, he got out of the truck he was driving and was backing away from the deputy with his hands up when he was shot and killed.

    Whether or not he "needed killing," he was not posing a threat at that moment, nor does it appear from the video that he intended to be a threat at that moment.

    Does this make it a justified killing or was it a summary execution?

    Thursday, August 7, 2014

    Just A Thought

    More and more people are waking up to the danger signs all around us and more and more of them are combining forces to try to stop the Neo-Imperial madness engulfing the globe. Whether it will be enough remains to be seen.

    Wednesday, August 6, 2014

    Hut Sut Rawlson on the Rillerah and a Brawla, Brawla Sooit

    For some reason, I always associated this song with Hudson automobiles when I was young, though it has nothing to do with Hudsons, and no one we knew when I was a kid had a Hudson. That seems strange now because Hudsons were highly respected and well-known, and the Post War Hudsons, 1948-54, were some of the wildest-styled scarab beetle autos of the era. Practically every other car brand from those days I remember very well, whether Chevrolet, Plymouth or Ford, or one of the fancier kind like your Packards and Cadillacs and Lincolns and such. There were Studebakers and Nashes among our friends and even an odd jalopy or two, those rattle-trap coupes and broken-down sedans from the 20s and early 30s with wood-spoke wheels and heavy grinding shifters on the slick rubber or metal floorboards. Oh, I remember the cars from those days very well and loved riding in cars, smelling the smell of the cars and tobacco smoke and open air and rubber and exhaust, listening to the radio, probably Fibber McGee and Molly or something, and driving around the countryside.

    Jack Kerouac reported in "On the Road" that Neal Cassady made a lot of money when he was working as a brakeman for the Southern Pacific in San Francisco one year. He saw a Hudson, a brand new 1949 Hudson, and decided he wanted one, so he went to his bank, withdrew all his money, and bought one and went driving. For three months it is said he drove all over the country and to Mexico and back in his 1949 Hudson Commodore, driving with Jack and Allen and Louanne and various girls and hitchhikers until they drove back to California, and the Hudson was repossessed because Neal never made a payment oh it in those three months, and so they didn't have a car anymore.

    This story has long been taken as a kind of gospel, but there is actually no evidence that Neal ever bought a Hudson, 1949 or otherwise. It's not even certain that many of the episodes Kerouac reported to have taken place in or with the Hudson in "On the Road" ever did. One thing I've wondered about is why, if Neal made a lot of money with the SP and took his entire savings to buy the 1949 Commodore, he would have any payments due on it. Hudsons weren't cheap, true. Fancy ones actually cost more than Cadillacs or Lincolns or Packards in those days, but still. So I don't know. Did Neal have a Hudson, or was Kerouac's report of it a novelist's conceit because the car looked like jazz and it fit the story's artistic development? Hard to say.

    This passage in the Original Scroll Version of "On the Road" is one that popped out at me because of its jazzy-ness, and it has something to do with the Hudson, though it isn't mentioned:
    Everything happened. We found the wild ecstatic Allen Anson and spent a night at his house in Long Island. Allen Anson lives in a nice house with his Aunt; when she dies the house is all his. Meanwhile she refuses to comply to any of his wishes and hates his friends. He brought this ragged gang of Neal, Louanne, Al and I and began a roaring party. The woman prowled upstairs; she threatened to call the police. “Oh shut up you old bag!” yelled Anson. I wondered how he could live with her like this. He had more books than I’ve ever seen in all my life…two libraries, two rooms loaded from floor to ceiling around all four walls, and such books as “The Explanation of the Apocalypse” in ten volumes. He played Verdi operas and pantomimed them in his pajamas with the great rip down the back. He didn’t give a damn about anything. He is a great scholar who goes reeling down the NY waterfront with original 14th century musical manuscripts under his arm, shouting. He crawls like a great spider through the streets. His excitement blew out of his eyes in great stabs of fiendish light. He rolled his neck in spastic ecstasy. He lisped, he writhed, he flopped, he moaned, he howled, he fell back in despair. He could hardly get a word out he was so excited with life. Neal stood before him with head bowed repeating over and over again “Yes…yes…yes.” He took me into a corner. “That Allen Anson is the greatest most wonderful of all. That’s what I was trying to tell you…that’s what I want to be…I want to be like him. He’s never hung up, he goes every direction, he lets it all out, he knows time, he has nothing to do but rock back and forth, man he’s the end! You see, if you go like him all the time you’ll finally get it.” “Get what?” “IT! IT! I’ll tell you---now no time, we have no time now.” Neal rushed back to watch Allen Anson some more. George Shearing the great jazz pianist, Neal said, was exactly like Allen Anson.
    "Hut Sut Rawlson" is a novelty song from 1945 or so that continued being popular well into the 1950s. I sure remember it.

    This is the Hudson that's kept at the Beat Museum in San Francisco. It's from the movie as there's no real proof that Neal Cassady ever had one.  But it's nice to think he might have.

    Hudson merged with Nash, like Packard merged with Studebaker, and they all died out by the mid-to-late 50s. The big unique "bathtub" cars of the era made a splash and then were gone. Reminds me just a little bit of what happened to Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac come to think of it.

    Hut-Sut Rawlson on the rillerah and a brawla, brawla sooit.
    Hut-Sut Rawlson on the rillerah and a brawla sooit.

    The brawla is the boy and girl, The Hut-Sut is their dream.
    The sooit is the Teacher who caught them by the stream.

    Now the boy and girl are back in school
    Shattered is their dream
    The teacher planted poison oak
    All along the stream....

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

    Liars, Thieves and Murderers -- The Empire of Chaos and Disruption Knows No Bounds

    This year marks the 400th Anniversary of Don Juan de Oñate's exile from New Mexico and the New World. That may seem like a minor footnote in history, and for many people, it is. Oñate is not well known outside of Texas and New Mexico, but for many people here, especially Hispanos and Pueblo Indians, his record of conquest, chaos and cruelty cannot be forgotten. Though 400 years have passed since he was sent back to Spain for those very crimes and failings, his legacy lives on as an undercurrent in New Mexican society -- which may have something to do with the levels of police and public cruelty we are experiencing today.

    Oñate's advent north of the Rio Grande was a disaster for the indigenous inhabitants whom he seemed to take immense pleasure in slaughtering and crippling, thieving from, lying to, and otherwise disrupting as he and his colonists made their way through the Puebloan communities proclaiming the Mercy of Christ and the suzerainty of Felipe Rey de Castile, Leon, y Aragon, and then killing them, crippling them, raping their women, enslaving the survivors and looting their pueblos.

    Those were the days. Complaints were made, and in due time, Oñate would be recalled from New Mexico, trial would be held, and ultimately Oñate would be returned to Spain where he lived out his remaining years as a minor functionary to the King. 

    This Blood Summer of Chaos and Disruption seems to be an echo of those times we thought we'd gotten past. Perhaps we haven't. At least in those days, appeal could be made to the King when the sub-rulers he set over his domains got out of control. Some record could be made and at least an attempt at justice and redress could be made. Now there's no one to intervene and seemingly nothing to be done.

    Will there be no end to the madness of our rulers? As the world -- at least a goodly portion of it -- spirals ever further into the pits of perdition, one must ask: what must be done, and by whom, to halt the madness, bring dignity and peace to the multitudes, end the suffering of the innocent, repair and renew the global environment, and do those other things so necessary to survival and sanity?

    Among the many tomes in our library of the obscure and forgotten, we have a number of books written in glum apprehension between the wars (that is between WWI and WWII) that either predict a New War Just Around the Corner or which posit means and methods to avoid one. The enemy is posited to be Germany and Japan, just as they would be in the end. There are a few anti-communist/anti-Russian volunes, but mostly the concern is over the aggression of Germany and Japan in Europe and Asia and the lesser but still worrisome aggression of Italy in Africa. As much as the capitalist class loathed and despised the nascent Soviet Union, they did not see it as an expansionist and aggressive threat. That would come at the end of World War II when, having defeated the totalitarian expansionist German Nazis and Japanese Empire, attention was turned to the prostrate, ruined Soviet Union as the New Threat. There always has to be an existential threat, doesn't there?

    Europe and Japan would be rebuilt along Anglo-American capitalist lines (with a bit of Socialism thrown in to calm the restive masses for a while) and the Soviet Union would be ham-strung and boxed and allowed to play in Eastern Europe so that no one in the West need concern themselves with that region for the time being.

    Red China was the New Dragon in the East. It was, of course, the offspring of Red Russia. Dealing with that unanticipated result of the Japanese defeat in WWII would take up most of the energy of the Western powers -- ultimately leading to military stalemate in Korea and military disaster and defeat in Vietnam.

    There's little doubt that the totalitarian governing systems that expanded during the period between the wars were ruled by liars, thieves and murderers, as all large scale governing systems seem to be, including the vaunted Democracies. The totalitarians were just more overt about it, let's say, so it was obvious. There was no lack of liars, thieves and murderers in ruling positions within the "democratic" Imperial nations. The case could be made -- and some made it -- that for all their fine words about self-determination and democracy and whatnot, the Imperial West (particularly Imperial Britain, but no less so France and Belgium... and the United States) were monstrous in their colonial enterprises.  Liars, thieves and murderers only begins to describe what what unleashed on the uncivilized peoples of the world by those powers.

    Ridding the world of the "uncivilized" peoples (sub-humans, actually) was something of an idealized goal. It could be accomplished by extermination when necessary -- viz: the various conquests and exterminations of the Native Peoples of the Americas -- or by conversion and/or assimilation. But the point was to make over all of the "uncivilized" peoples into some version of "civilized" and subservient or to make them be gone.

    This was the Western European colonial enterprise in a nutshell.

    And here we are again.

    All of the current blood-lettings and slaughter-fests under way this summer appear to be some version of the colonial wars of yore, conquests for the purposes of subjugation, extermination, control and extraction of resources, and destruction of so-called primitive cultures which threaten the brutal and cruel cultures of the West and the powers they wish to assert over everyone on earth.

    Here we go again.

    None of these neo-colonial wars seem to be going well, but they do go on a very long time just the same. The victims pile up in ever-growing stacks of bodies, streets run with blood, cities are laid waste. There is a repeating cycle of disruption and destruction, revolt and suppression, and with each cycle, the cruelties become normalized.

    New Mexicans may have been able to get rid of Oñate when time was, but getting rid of him did not get rid of his legacy, and even the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 -- viciously revenged in the de Vargas Reconquista of 1692-95 in which thousands of Indians were slaughtered -- did not fully restore what now had passed.

    The cycle of violence and destruction we're in today will no doubt pass, and perhaps some of those responsible will be judged and a sense of justice restored, but what used to be cannot be restored -- and perhaps it shouldn't be.

    May we nevertheless learn to be better.

    Saturday, August 2, 2014

    Russell Brand Explains It All For You

     I've never been a huge fan of Brand for a variety of reasons, but in this episode of his YouTube program "The Trews" he makes the point that the Gaza-Israel situation is made worse by a belligerent and uninformed media exemplified by Sean Hannity and FOX in this instance. Of course like Hannity, Brand is an entertainer and both tend toward conflict and confirmation bias rather than rational discussion and/or provision of useful information. On the other hand, when the predominant position of media is more closely aligned with Hannity, the conflict is bound to continue for there is no way to stop it short of annihilation/subjugation/surrender.

    The Guardian has made a big To-Do over it which at least gets it some attention.

    I'll try to get into a little more of the underlying issues in a subsequent post.

    Friday, August 1, 2014

    "On the Road" -- by Jack Kerouac (The Original Scroll...)

    Kerouac's Own Design for the book's cover, c. 1952
    The Scroll Version is a lot more fun than I thought the original Signet paperback was when I read it sometime in the early-mid 1960s. It's looser and more open, more visceral -- though that's hard to imagine -- more lyrical, and strangely, without paragraphs, it's easier to read. It flows naturally, weaving a story in and out, and I think you could literally open it anywhere, start reading, go back, circle around, and even read the same passages several times without losing anything. It's that kind of novel. "Whitmanesque" it's been called. There is a linear plot and storyline, but that linearity is only part of the quality of the near-novel. Take it apart and there's just as much there, maybe more. It's brilliant, it's fun, it's sex, drink, drugs and be-bop. Too early, you see, for rock and roll.

    I'm old enough to remember be-bop. Way older than Jack-John-Ti-Jean ever got to be, way older than Neal Cassady, the motor of the crazy-car/truck trip that Kerouac took across the country back when I was barely a gleam in my parents' eyes.

    Neal Cassady's Bad Boy Smug mug shot 7-11-1944, Denver, CO

    Kerouac in 1942, having joined the Naval Reserves. (I always thought he was taller than that).

    It was a simpler and more innocent time? No it was not. It was a different time, and unlike "Dharma Bums," which seems very contemporary or timeless to me, "On the Road" is rooted in its time, it is very late '40s-early '50s, gritty and rough as things were back then. I can remember bits and pieces of my own life from the era (though I've lost many memories in the interims of age) and it wasn't a paradise, far from it. "Gritty and rough" is being charitable. It was a world that had been through the most appalling of wars, the most crippling of economic depressions, the most apocalyptic natural disasters. It was a world that had come apart at the seams and was by no means put back together again. But it seemed to them that the survivors had survived the worst that the world had to offer.

    It was the Post-War era when so many things seemed possible. And it is the possibility of the era that animates the story and the road trip, the adventure, the re-discovery almost reconceiving of America. It could only have happened because of the hobos who pioneered the paths criss-crossing the country during the Depression when Jack-John-Ti-Jean was just a boy. He must have been moved by the stories, for the travel themes would stay with him throughout the remainder of his life.

    "On the Road" weaves multiple travel threads together and clues the reader to how that traveling formed the consciousness of some of the writers and mavens and personalities of the era. They cannot be separated from their perambulations, but I'm not entirely sure how someone like Allen Ginsberg got from New York to Denver to San Francisco. Did he take the train? Surely he didn't hitch-hike or take the bus like Kerouac did. Or maybe he did. He might have. We'll let that question sit for a bit.

    I've only just begun re-reading (for me, this is the first time with the Scroll version). So far, it's fascinating and notably clearer than when I read the Signet version...

    "Today's wild youth..." you bet

    Thursday, July 31, 2014

    In the Midst of This Blood Summer

    It would appear that Pierre Omidyar has decided to pull the plug on his Grand Plan to Transform the Media at First Look and content himself with a blog or two that "experiment" with various means and methods of... what... exactly?

    That's still something of a mystery, but the Grand Plan appears to be dead.

    Some time back, Pierre put up a blog post that you wouldn't have known about unless you're following his twits or those of some of his stable of writers closely. I think I noticed it in passing through the comments on some post at The Intercept. It got little or no notice outside the world of the First Look at any rate, but it is an interesting walk back from all the promises announced and tub-thumped for so very long by the First Lookers and Interceptors -- without any discernible results for month after month, except one: the huge stable of writers Pierre had assembled essentially stopped writing once they signed with Pierre. Even the ever prolix and prolific Greenwald's output diminished to practically nothing for weeks at a time.

    Reducing or eliminating output by formerly busy and sometimes power-questioning writers appeared to be the main purpose of First Look, as many observers pointed out, sometimes unkindly. Jeremy Scahill essentially disappeared; Matt Taibbi likewise. Oh they did their rounds for their book/movie tours, but that had nothing whatever to do with First Look or anything else that Pierre was involved in (so far as we know. He had his had in many ventures.) Laura Poitras has never contributed to The Intercept, nor has Liliana Segura. Marcy Wheeler bailed out months ago after contributing one piece. There were occasional pieces of generally "old news" by Ryan Gallagher and Ryan Devereaux, sometimes co-bylined by Greenwald, but likely not co-written by him. There were a few articles by Murtaza Hussain. But apart from that, practically nothing, month after month.

    The lack of production and the frequency of excuses was striking, especially given all the other news startups going balls to the wall at around the same time, with special mention of Quartz, Vox, and Vice, but they are far from the only ones. They and many other online news sites have been running circles around Pierre's First Look (that was getting nowhere, with its one "magazine" that so rarely published and seemed quite flaccid when it did.) There was and is simply no comparison between First Look's practically absent content and the daily sometimes extraordinary content of a dozen or more online news ventures that were actually cranking out... erm... news.

    So. John Cook appeared to order everyone to sit down and shut up and wait for however long it would take to get the operation up and running; it wasn't ready yet, and all the nay-sayers were poopy-pants. Greenwald would post when and if he wanted, and everyone else would be on hiatus until the site was "ready." So just shut up. Then he disappeared again, they said "on vacation". Who knew? Who cared?

    First Look was looking more and more like the Last Look Back as news was being broken all over the media long before anything would appear in the one faltering "magazine" that was essentially a group blog on a broken WordPress platform, a group blog that hardly ever published or updated.

    First Look and The Intercept were a joke.

    Pierre had to intervene because this month-after-month of nothing made him look ridiculous for devoting $50 million or $250 million to... nothing. Wags made mock, to say the least.

    Pierre's primary claim is that the enterprise is still very much a "startup." Which means, essentially, that it doesn't actually exist as a going concern, and it may never.

    It is a still experimental experiment that may never go anywhere at all (startups are like that you know) and it is no longer positioned to be this "transformative" media thing-a-ma-bob that it was promoted as, but just what it will be, nobody knows. There will be Greenwald's blog and the now re-conceived Taibbi Thing (to debut sometime, one day... maybe) and that's about it.

    Pierre will continue to support something similar to an investigative journalism enterprise, by funding things like travel and accommodations and legal fees and whatnot, but what comes of it, if anything, may be published elsewhere in already extant outlets rather than at anything new and transformative that Pierre has created out of the air.

    In other words, First Look, as it was conceived is dead.

    It ain't gonna be that.

    And it may never be anything.

    Got that?


    There's a message here somewhere...

    In the meantime, Telesur English is up and running. Those devilish Chavistas. Check it out. 

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014

    Israel Rampages in Gaza Again

    Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

    This happened was during today's "4 hour humanitarian cease fire." According to witnesses and reports from the scene, shortly after 12:00n local time, as residents (survivors?) of Gaza were attempting to get necessary supplies at a market section adjoining the Shujayea neighborhood, several mortar or tank shells landed among the shoppers, killing between 17 and 20 (a figure likely to increase significantly) and wounding hundreds. 

    This is what Israel does: it declares a "cease fire" then waits for people to gather in response, then the IDF kills them. It kills them in hospitals. It kills them in refugee centers and schools. Wherever Gazans are gathered in large numbers for protection or under the banner of a "ceasefire," Israel aims its missiles and shells and kills them by the score, wounding many more. 

    It is apparently an identity thing to the Israelis. 

    Lull and lure the Arabs into believing their safety is assured. Then kill them.

    This is how the UNRWA Representative in Gaza Christopher Gunness responded to the latest school shelling in which dozens were killed -- as they slept -- and hundreds were wounded:

    The UNWRA statement is unusually blunt and harsh.

    Statement by UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl

    Last night, children were killed as they slept next to their parents on the floor of a classroom in a UN designated shelter in Gaza. Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced. 
    We have visited the site and gathered evidence. We have analysed fragments, examined craters and other damage. Our initial assessment is that it was Israeli artillery that hit our school, in which 3,300 people had sought refuge. We believe there were at least three impacts. It is too early to give a confirmed official death toll. But we know that there were multiple civilian deaths and injuries   including of women and children and the UNRWA guard who was trying to protect the site.  These are people who were instructed to leave their homes by the Israeli army.  
    The precise location of the Jabalia Elementary Girls School and the fact that it was housing thousands of internally displaced people was communicated to the Israeli army seventeen times,  to ensure its protection; the last being at  ten to nine last night, just hours before the fatal shelling. 
    I condemn in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces. 
    This is the sixth time that one of our schools has been struck. Our staff, the very people leading the humanitarian response are being killed.  Our shelters are overflowing. Tens of thousands may soon be stranded in the streets of Gaza, without food, water and shelter if attacks on these areas continue. 
    We have moved beyond the realm of humanitarian action alone. We are in the realm of accountability. I call on the international community to take deliberate international political action to put an immediate end to the continuing carnage.

    As many have pointed out during this latest round of Israeli rampaging in Gaza, Israelis are losing their humanity. 

    Indeed. But there are so many places where just that loss of humanity has become routinized. This Blood Summer still is only half over, too.

    The Dharma, "The Dharma Bums," Prefiguring the Rucksack Revolution, and How We Got Here -- Or Something

    This is the one I recall reading c. 1962 or 63; the cover illustration and blurb are simply silly

    Jack Kerouac wrote "The Dharma Bums" in 1957 and published it in 1958 after the wild success of his first published novel, "On the Road," which became a defining work of the Beat Generation. Most of the incidents described in "The Dharma Bums" apparently take place in California in 1955 and '56 with excursions to the South and Southwest and finally to the Northwest Desolation Wilderness where the novel's ending is set.

    The key characters are novelized versions of Jack Kerouac himself (as Ray Smith) and Gary Snyder (as Japhy Ryder.) Ray is in his thirties, getting close to middle age, while Japhy is still in his mid twenties, or at least, those were the ages of Kerouac and Snyder during the period of the novel.

    Japhy's on the Dharma Path and he lives in a shack out behind a big house on a hill while he goes to classes at UC Berkeley, drinks tea, meditates, contemplates Nature, expostulates and has wild parties and orgies and stuff.

    Ray's on a Dharma Path as well, but in the telling of the tale, he's just a bum who drinks and writes and meditates and travels around with his rucksack meeting people, Bodhisattvas and Buddhas all, along the way.

    Japhy has a purpose and will wind up going to Japan on a fellowship to study under Zen Mountains and Masters and become one himself. Ray just is. And you sort of know that like Kerouac, he will eventually drink himself to death just as the Rucksack Revolution that Japhy predicts and prefigures is about to climax and thence to peter out.

    We know, because we've lived, what happens to these people.

    Gary Snyder is now an old man, but he's still going strong they say, living a not-so-primitive life, surrounded by acolytes and devotees, probably none of whom remember him from back when, but that hardly matters as his diamond life has been one of constant becoming. There may or may not be a handful who have stayed with him since those Dharma Bum days, but most I would venture have long since, like Jack Kerouac, died off. Snyder is an honored elder in other words; the others are mostly long gone.

    I read "The Dharma Bums" when I was maybe 14, I don't know exactly. It was a period during which I devoured everything I could get my hands on of Kerouac's work, and it continued pretty much consistently until I was 18 or so, when my attentions were focused elsewhere. I think I read "The Dharma Bums" first, then "On the Road," then "Desolation Angels" but the sequence could have been different as my memory has faded over the years and I can't even be sure that I'm remembering events and not imagining them. So much of my life has been an adventure, you might say, and I haven't kept good records.

    When I was 14, of course, I could not and did not understand a lot of the references to Buddhism in "The Dharma Bums," and in re-reading it recently, I find some references are still a bit obscure, though most are easily digested now. I didn't really understand the point of the novel either. A travelogue, yes, but obviously something more as well, but I had no idea what. In re-reading it, of course, it is much clearer, and the point -- such as it is -- is obvious. It was probably not meant for a 14 year old to understand in any case.

    The writing is as strikingly visual now as it was when I was merely a lad, and re-reading it is a powerful reminder of how penetrating those visuals were and are; the descriptions of place are so strong and I have been to so many of those very places or places like them or near them, that I feel I'm living the novel as I'm reading it. I recall some passages in re-reading that had a powerful present impact when I first read them, but much more often, it's simply words and phrases that pop out at me, not whole passages, and they trigger memories or just their presence within. Clearly, although I didn't understand much of the book, I internalized many of its elements.

    That may well have happened to many others who read it around the same time and later, they would read the book and internalize its elements without necessarily understanding them or needing to. The book is a travelogue of sorts (as was, of course, "On the Road") but it's also a meditation on the meaning and discovery of existence and its illusory nature. The Dharma Path is the Buddha Path, and the wanderers in "The Dharma Bums" see themselves as Zen Lunatics sent out to bring joy and find enlightenment and to discover the illusion of their own existence and that of every other.

    It's all an illusion, you see?

    Practically everybody Ray-Jack encounters on his adventures as a Dharma Bum is a Buddha-Bodhisattva, which is something you discover when you're on that path, but it is a path not many are on at any given time, and while Ray-Jack discovers he can't fall off a mountain, he does fall off the path (it seems to me) more often than he realizes. That's part of the journey. If you're going to be a Zen Lunatic, you cannot always be what you think you are, nor can you always stick to the path you think you're on. As a Zen Lunatic, you are bound to diversions. Many and frequent. And so it is for Ray-Jack and for Japhy-Gary (who is at one point, just one time, called "Gary" in the novel).

    Ray-Jack Writing-sleeping, posed for the photographer no doubt.
    When you become famous, as Ray-Jack became famous shortly after finishing "The Dharma Bums", you have to pose for pictures like this. It's part of the job of a famous writer.

    Gary Snyder having tea in his Dharma Shack, c. 1955?
    Whether the picture of Japhy-Gary is posed for a famous-writer photographer, I can't be sure. It's posed, yes, but it has the feeling of a snapshot rather than a professional production, and that's probably intentional, no matter who took the picture or why. I wouldn't be surprised if it was in LIFE magazine, just because and for no other reason at all. Gary Snyder may have been only 25 or so, but he was already a Buddhist Master or near-master. At least in the context of the USofA where Buddhism was still exotic and Anglos practicing Zen were practically unknown -- which Kerouac in his silliness and word-crafting might have written "unkoan" if only because he liked the sound of it and to drive his editors nuts.

    They had editors then. I'm trying to imagine how his editor approached something like "On the Road." I can't quite grasp and the story -- which I'm sure has been told somewhere -- probably isn't all that interesting. You do what you do. But I've seen a posed picture of Kerouac transferring the text of "The Dharma Bums" from scroll to typed pages in standard format. In other words, he didn't just turn in a scroll of teletype paper to Viking or whoever his publisher was; he sat down and typed the whole thing all over again on pages of 8 1/2 x 11 typing paper like any other author and turned in the manuscript for publication just like anybody else looking to be published at the time. It's interesting to me, that part of the process, because the vision I've had is not that. It's a vision of Kerouac defiantly submitting his scroll(s) for publication and daring anybody to do anything about it.

    The standard form manuscript of "The Dharma Bums" has been sent around to various literary events and memorials and museums and such, and I think I posted an image of the first page of it previously. The scroll has disappeared. It was sold, apparently, at auction and the buyer was "undisclosed." Wherever it is, and whoever has it, may it be enjoyed.

    Jack Kerouac's notebook wherein he declares "The Dharma Bums" complete (clickage will embiggen)

    Kerouac says he wrote and finished "The Dharma Bums" in 12 days; it reads very much like that's the case, and I'd say -- but for a purposeful delay to finish reading it -- it took me just about as long to read the novel this time. I have no idea how long it took me to read it when I was a kid, and I suspect, because many parts of it didn't ring a bell this time around and seemed to be all new to me, that I skipped through it back then. That could be my failing memory, too. But I suspect I didn't read it closely in any case, and even this time around, in re-paging through it for this essay and other things, there are whole passages I know I read that I don't remember.

    I did delay reading the last two chapters this time around. Purposefully. I knew the story had to end but I didn't want it to end, and so I slowed then stopped reading it. Set the book aside and tried to take in the bloody horrors going on in so many places this horrible summer. The contrast between the vision, Kerouac's vision, I was reading and the reality outside it could not have been stronger. I have some idea what was going on in the country and the world in 1955 and 56 when the novel is set, and neither the world nor the nation were at peace.

    Yet somebody on a Dharma path at that time would not have been numbed by the abundance of bloodshed along the way, at least I don't think so. There would have been terrible things, yes (Emmett Till, anyone?) and Kerouac himself mentions passing by Alamogordo and having a vision relating to the Bomb:
    From that desert in Arizona he roared on up to New Mexico, took the cut through Las Cruces up to Alamogordo where the atom bomb was first blasted and where I had a strange vision as we drove along seeing in the clouds above the Alamogordo mountains the words as if imprinted in the sky: "This Is the Impossibility of the Existence of Anything" (which was a strange place for that strange true vision) and then he batted on through the beau­tiful Atascadero Indian country in the uphills of New Mexico beautiful green valleys and pines and New England-like roll­ing meadows and then down to Oklahoma (at outside Bowie Arizona we'd had a short nap at dawn, he in the truck, me in my bag in the cold red clay with just stars blazing silence overhead and a distant coyote)...
    Breathtaking.  Of course, I quibble. "Atascadero" is a place in California. A well-known place at that. Atascadero is not the name of the Indians who live in the beautiful uphills of New Mexico; he must have been thinking of "Mescalero" -- but does it matter? Even more interesting, this was pre-Interstate Highway, and so I'm wondering the route his truckdriver benefactor Bodhisattva took him through New Mexico on his way to North Carolina because it seems he bypassed Albuquerque. Which was certainly possible to do...

    He saw the words as if imprinted on the sky: This Is the Impossibility of the Existence of Anything as he passed near the site of the Trinity blast, which he declared a "strange vision" yet it's perfectly apropos it seems to me.

    As I've reported, I've been to Trinity Site itself a couple of times, last April most recently, and I was nearly struck dumb by the stunning display in the skies that day, the clouds dancing and the slashes of virga in many places and the wind blasts, the shafts of sunlight on the sere ground, the subtle illuminations on the mountains. I'd never seen anything like it, I imagined anything like it. The visual image was even more intense than a painting, than a movie, than any description I could try to give. And I was in the midst of it, in the midst of a crowd, and I wondered if any of them could see what I was seeing, and if they could, whether it had the same impact or any impact for that matter.

    The blast site itself is on a kind of upslope ledge against and below the mountains, and from this ledge there is the possibility of a sweeping view into the Jornado de los Muertos, the plain below where many are said to have died due to the lack of water for people and animals passing through. There is the possibility of a view because sometimes there will be too much dust or cloud or other stuff in the air to see much of anything below except maybe the mountains in the distance. So you might go out there and feel enclosed rather than exposed to something grander.

    But in April, the view was grand. And yes, I digress, but so what?

    Desolation Peak Lookout, Mt. Hozomeen in the background. Photograph by: Basil Tsimoyianis; Creative Commons license
    This is where Kerouac spent his summer of 1956 after Gary Snyder sailed for Japan. Ray-Jack made it to the top of A Mountain, barely, and he stayed there for his allotted time and then he made his way back down the mountain.

    I delayed finishing "The Dharma Bums" because I knew it was coming to an end and I didn't want it to end. It had been an extraordinary journey to that point, and I had a heart-wrenching notion of how it might conclude though I knew -- because Kerouac had already told us -- that Ray-Jack would leave the mountain lookout on Desolation Peak and go back into "the world." That's what a Dharma Bum does, even after being on the mountaintop for 60 days or however long he was there.  

    He goes back into the world.

    The last few chapters of "The Dharma Bums" are pure poetry, practically decorative yet highly evocative, and as is the case with everything else in the book, exceedingly visual. You are there. I was there. To wit:

    (The initial passage of Chapter 34)
    August finally came in with a blast that shook my house and augured little augusticity. I made raspberry Jello the color of rubies in the setting sun. Mad raging sunsets poured in seafoams of cloud through unimaginable crags, with every rose tint of hope beyond, I felt just like it, brilliant and bleak beyond words. Everywhere awful ice fields and snow straws; one blade of grass jiggling in the winds of infinity, anchored to a rock. To the east, it was gray; to the north, aw­ful; to the west, raging mad, hard iron fools wrestling in the groomian gloom; to the south, my father's mist. Jack Moun­tain, his thousand-foot rock hat overlooked a hundred football fields of snow. Cinnamon Creek was an eyrie of Scottish fog. Shull lost itself in the Golden Horn of Bleak. My oil lamp burned in infinity. "Poor gentle flesh," I realized, "there is no answer." I didn't know anything any more, I didn't care, and it didn't matter, and suddenly I felt really free. Then would come really freezing mornings, cracking fire, I'd chop wood with my hat on (earmuff cap), and would feel lazy and won­derful indoors, fogged in by icy clouds. Rain, thunder in the mountains, but in front of the stove I read my Western magazines. Everywhere snowy air and woodsmoke. Finally the snow came, in a whirling shroud from Hozomeen by Canada, it came surling my way sending radiant white heralds through which I saw the angel of light peep, and the wind rose, dark low clouds rushed up as out of a forge, Canada was a sea of meaningless mist; it came in a general fanning attack adver­tised by the sing in my stovepipe; it rammed it, to absorb my old blue sky view which had been all thoughtful clouds of gold; far, the rum dum dum of Canadian thunder; and to the south another vaster darker storm closing in like a pincer; but Hozomeen mountain stood there returning the attack with a surl of silence. And nothing could induce the gay golden horizons far northeast where there was no storm, to change places with Desolation. Suddenly a green and rose rainbow shafted right down into Starvation Ridge not three hundred yards away from my door, like a bolt, like a pillar: it came among steaming clouds and orange sun turmoiling.
    What is a rainbow, Lord?
    A hoop
    For the lowly.
    Is it any wonder I didn't want it to end?

    But it had to, for "The Dharma Bums" is only a novel, no? It had to come to an end, and it the end, though I shed a tear or two, the ending seemed perfect:
    "Japhy," I said out loud, "I don't know when we'll meet again or what'll happen in the future, but Desolation, Desolation, I owe so much to Desolation, thank you forever for guiding me to the place where I learned all. Now comes the sadness of com­ing back to cities and I've grown two months older and there's all that humanity of bars and burlesque shows and gritty love, all upsidedown in the void God bless them, but Japhy you and me forever we know, O ever youthful, O ever weeping." Down on the lake rosy reflections of celestial vapor appeared, and I said "God, I love you" and looked up to the sky and really meant it. "I have fallen in love with you, God. Take care of us all, one way or the other."

    To the children and the innocent it's all the same.
    And in keeping with Japhy's habit of always getting down on one knee and delivering a little prayer to the camp we left, to the one in the Sierra, and the others in Marin, and the little prayer of gratitude he had delivered to Sean's shack the day he sailed away, as I was hiking down the mountain with my pack I turned and knelt on the trail and said "Thank you, shack."
    Yah. How many times have I... ?
    Then I added "Blah," with a little grin, because I knew that shack and that mountain would understand what that meant, and turned and went on down the trail back to this world.
    The Rucksack Revolution was yet to come. "The Dharma Bums" is a pre-figuring journey through time and space and spirit that blazed the path, though many at the time -- like me -- had no idea it would be so. It was a novel, a Beat novel, like jazz and dancing down a mountain, not meant to do anything at all, just to be.

    And so it was.

    Kerouac said "The Dharma Bums" was better than "On the Road"
     SUNDAY, DEC 8, 1957 -- Quiet Sunday, my work done -- I think DHARMA BUMS is not as dramatic as On the Road but it's a better book (more important) -- technically almost just as good in any case -- If Viking doesn't want to publish it, they'll be mistaken & sorry later on --
    Wrote Dharma Bums from Nov. 26 to Dec. 7 -- 12 days 
    THE DHARMA BUMS, for me, is better than ON THE ROAD.... in the end... because what Neal was, a mad holy hepcat, wasn't as great as what the dharma bums were, religious heroes of America, preaching kindness and mindfulness (that's what Neal could have been)-- oh well, it probably stinks--------------

    "The Dharma Bums" is so pure and clear by comparison to either "On the Road" or "Desolation Angels." And yet... there is a sadness to it. That's part of the Dharma too.