Friday, November 30, 2007

Juju Keeps Me Alive

[Reminder: Some of my posts, including this one, are memoirs of my abusive childhood. In this post I'm relating events that happened in the spring of 1956, when I was 6 "going on 7". The links to the right can be used to follow backward through the memoirs, or to restrict viewing to other kinds of posts.]

I must have been in the military hospital for some time to heal up from the surgery, but I don't remember any of it. I think I was heavily drugged most of the time. My next memory was waking up in a house with a baby-sitter.

That's what she told me she was. I found myself in a stroller, of all things. It must have been an XXL stroller. My head was still bandaged. My arm was still in a sling. I was still not in Hawaiian heaven.

I told the teenage girl who was taking care of me that I wanted to die. I hadn't wanted to die before. I'd wanted to go to Hawaiian heaven alive if possible. But now I'd given up all hope of getting there alive. I wanted to die as soon as possible.

She said the idea was horrible. So I backed it up by describing my parents. I didn't leave anything out. I even told her of my Mother's rapes of me. She cried and asked me what I wanted.

I was near the entrance of the house. I saw that there were stairs outside. I asked where the stairs went. She said they go down to the street. "How far?" "A long way down."

I said, "Please, push me."

I think I may have had to argue a bit with her about it, but in the end she did it. She agreed that my life was so wretched I should have the right to die if I wanted to, and she pushed the stroller with me in it out the front door and down the stairs to the street.

As the stroller bounced down the stairs, I couldn't help laughing. It was such a fun ride. When I hit the sidewalk the stroller took a big bounce and overturned, spilling me on the grass strip between the sidewalk and the street.

Instead of being dead I was alive and laughing uncontrollably. I wanted to go at it again. The baby-sitter came running down after me and, seeing me laughing, started laughing herself. The whole thing was just absurd. I realized then that I couldn't die. Somehow, I wouldn't be allowed to die.

Just then, my Aunt Mina walked up. She said, "What's going on here? Why are you lying on the grass?"

[Left: Aunt Mina was another sister of my Mother, along with Alta. She's seen here holding me during an early visit to the DC area, several years before the event being described in this post.]

The baby-sitter started railing at her, telling her what a horrible Mother she was, and how she wouldn't ever work for her again. She thought Mina was my Mother.

Mina lived in Maryland. So my parents had got her to take care of me after the operation.

She told the baby-sitter she wouldn't pay her after what she'd done. The sitter, still thinking Mina was my Mother, stomped off, saying she didn't want Mina's filthy money.

I barely absorbed the exchange. I was dizzy with the thought that even if I tried I couldn't kill myself. Something wanted me alive.

Top Flight Hepcat

Video Find of the Day

Two clips showing all of a short entitled Groovie Movie, that will tell you everything, EVERYTHING, you need to know to be a top flight hepcat on the dance floor. Imdb says it came out in 1944, the poster oldtimey says 1942. I'll go with the poster.

The Groovie Movie (1942) - Pt.1

The Groovie Movie (1942) - Pt.2

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Nice Guitar You Got There

Video Find of the Day

Everybody on the playground was quoting this song when I was 6 going on 7. The song was recorded late 1955, the movie came out March, 1956.

"I don't know. It isn't Boogey. It isn't Jive. It isn't Swing. It's kind of all of them." "Hey, Sister! What do you call that exercise you're getting?" "It's Rock and Roll, Brother, and we're rockin' tonight!

Swing Dancing to Bill Haley and the Comets (1956) [See You Later Alligator from the movie Rock Around The Clock]

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

All Star Clarinet Gang

Video Find of the Day

They do something sensuous.

Klezmer All Star Clarinet Gang plays "King Waldemar"

They do Bartok. Bartok needs to be done, slowly on a spit.

Klezmer All Star Clarinet Gang plays Bartok

They have a theme song.

Klezmer All Star Clarinet Gang plays "The Clarinet Gang"

They Couldn't Handle The Truth

[Reminder: Some of my posts, including this one, are memoirs of my abusive childhood. In this post I'm relating events that happened in the spring of 1956, when I was 6 "going on 7", immediately after appearing to try to kill myself by jumping head-first off a jungle gym. The links to the right can be used to follow backward through the memoirs, or to restrict viewing to other kinds of posts.]

I woke up groggy in some sort of hospital room. When a nurse came into view I asked her where I was. She told me. I think it was the Fort Devens infirmary again. The important thing to me was, it wasn't any heaven. It hadn't worked. I screamed and cried and tried to bang my head against the wall, and the nurse gave me a shot.

My next memory is of a room of my own faced with two doctors. Again, I asked where I was. This time the answer was a shock. I was in a military hospital in Maryland. I was told I was flown to it.

The two doctors wouldn't answer any more questions. From then on they were going to ask the questions. "Why did you want to kill yourself?"

I told them I didn't really want to kill myself, I just wanted to go to Hawaii. That didn't please them. They said it didn't make sense. I said, too bad, it's true. I was getting an attitude. I was in no mood to show respect to a couple of know-it-all haoles, even if they were doctors.

[Above: A studio photo of me taken just before my call to Alta triggered the chain of events that got me to Maryland. I think there was some attitude there to start with. Subsequent events enhanced the attitude. Not the 1st picture I put here. The 1st was from age 5. Attitude there, too.]

Their answer to my attitude was to give me another shot. But this one wasn't a tranquilizer like the one in Fort Devens. It was sodium pentathol. They were going to make me tell the truth by means of science!

The drug broke down my resistance, and made me compliant. So when they asked again, "Why did you want to kill yourself?" I told them the truth. "I wanted to go to Hawaii."

They were ready to pull their hair out at that point. Then one of them got the bright idea to ask, "OK, why did you want to go to Hawaii?"

"My parents tried to kill me. My Mother tried to kill me. My Mother does bad things to me." I started to go into details. They cut me off, and left the room. That's when i noticed that the room had a window and my parents were sitting in a room on the other side of it. The doctors consulted with my parents for a minute. Then they came back in.

"You know what you said isn't true. What's the real reason you wanted to go to Hawaii?"

Being told that I lied didn't make sense to me. I hadn't. The only way I could interpret what they said to me was that they didn't want to hear that truth.

I was still under the influence of the sodium pentathol. I had to be compliant. But that didn't reall mean that I had to tell them the truth. It meant that I had to tell them what I thought they wanted me to tell them. When I thought that what they wanted was the truth, I told them the truth. But now I saw they didn't want the truth. So I strained to imagine what it is they wanted.

I came up with music. I told them I wanted to go to Hawaii for the music.

This led to a weird discussion, mostly between the two doctors, about how they could deal with my "compulsion". The gist of the debate, as I understood it, was that they could either get rid of all my compulsions, with a major lobotomy, or they could do a minor excision and just get rid of my Hawaiian memories. it was clear to me that it was best if I could get them to do the minor thing, versus the major.

So when one of the doctors asked me what it was about music that made me want to go to Hawaii I said, "It's just that I remember the Hawaiian music, and it reminds me of Hawaii, and I want to go there."

He said, "Well, what if you couldn't remember the Hawaiian music. Do you think you'd want to go there then?"

"Oh no, sir. Then it wouldn't matter to me."

I fell asleep after that, for I don't know how long. When I awoke again, I couldn't move my head. The doctors were there again, plus nurses. After they talked to me for a minute, there was a sound of power equipment, like a saw or a drill, and I realized I was being operated on.

I had a vague feeling that my head was being touched. They said, we're going to move an electrode around and we just need you to tell us what you're seeing or remembering or feeling.

I was prompted for my feelings and thoughts every few seconds. I kept experiencing snatches of music, but they didn't have anything to do with Hawaii. Finally though I heard a Hawaiian drum chant. I told them. They said good, that's what we'll burn.

There was no indication that anything was happening. I don't remember a frying or zapping sound. They just said, "There, it's done."

Over 30 years later I talked about what happened to a psychiatrist. He said the story was impossible because those techniques weren't in use in 1956. The sodium pentathol was possible, but the method of brain probing to stimulate and pinpoint memories was not available then.

Well, I think my psychiatrist was full of shit. What he didn't take into account was that this was a military hospital. In fact it may not have been an actual working hospital but a military medical research facility. The military doesn't make all of its research public. These, in particular, would have been kept secret, on national security grounds. (I was very likely at the Walter Reed Medical Research Institute in Silver Spring.) He did not take into account the likelihood that my Father had knowledge of the availability of such procedures through his position in army intelligence.

The method wasn't all that precise either. It got rid of most but not all of the Hawaiian musical memories. It missed some. But it also erased some other non-Hawaiian memories. Remember that I could whistle like a bird? I couldn't whistle at all again after the surgery, for 35 years.

It was criminal. All they had to do was get me away from my parents. Would it have hurt them to spare me the surgery and send me to a Hawaiian orphanage? But at least it wasn't a fill frontal lobotomy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Silver Swan + Dithyramb

Video Find of the Day

Best English song of the 17th Century!

The Silver Swan who, living, had no note,
When death approach'd, unlock'd her silent throat.
Leaning her breast against the reedy shore,
Thus sung her first and last, And sung no more:
"Farewell all joys, O death come close mine eyes.
More geese than swans now live, more fools than wise."

-- Orlando Gibbons, 1583-1625

You get all that, PLUS, an excerpt from Victor Paranjoti's Dravidian Dithyramb, a choral piece written to resemble a form of Hindu classical music. The composer described it as "… an expression of uninhibited festivity. An elusive but persistent pulse motivates the music, which is based on mere fragments of melody – driving onward faster and faster towards the final frenzied utterance."

Escape Attempt

[Reminder: Some of my posts, including this one, are memoirs of my abusive childhood. In this post I'm relating events that happened in the spring of 1956, when I was 6 "going on 7". The links to the right can be used to follow backward through the memoirs, or to restrict viewing to other kinds of posts.]

The night of Aunt Alta's arrival, I woke up as Alex after everyone else was in bed -- around 1 AM. Alex went out looking for a jumping-off place.

I talked about these before in Heavens and Heavens, July 7, 2007. They are special places from which the soul of a deceased person can leap and, provided they leap in the right direction, land in a heaven.

Alex/Alaka'i decided to try and speed things up. He would skip the requirement that the soul be of the recently deceased variety. The thinking was, the kind of heavens that you could enter into by leaping from a jumping-off place would not be the Christian kind. Let the Christians go to their cold heaven in the sky and congregate amongst themselves. Alex would go to a Hawaiian heaven where there would presumably be no Christians, and therefore no one like Alta, no one like my Mother, no one like my Father, and no one like the dozens of jerks who told me when I complained about my parents' abuse that I was evil because I wasn't honoring my Mother and Father.

So it was a way of going to Hawaii without a plane or a boat. Just jump off a suitable high perch and with luck you land in the temporary abode of dead Hawaiians. You'll be reincarnated eventually, but meanwhile you're in good company.

As Alex I wondered around Fort Devens in the middle of the night looking for a jumping-off place. The only thing I had to go on was that it should be a tree or a cliff, and I should expect to find the spirits of children about it.

I couldn't find the spirits of children around any of the actual trees I looked at. They were just trees. There were no cliffs, per se. So it was looking desperate after a couple of hours of searching.

But suddenly, unexpectedly, I came into my school's playground. I hadn't realized I was in the neighborhood of the school. I just stepped out of of some woods and was there. And I saw the jungle gym in the middle of it, and I saw (or felt) the spirits of children.

I had a flash of insight. "Of course!" I thought, "This is America! In America everything is made of metal and plastic! Why shouldn't the jumping-off trees be metal?"

So I climbed up to the top of the jungle gym. It was awkward because my right arm was in the sling. At the top I tried to guess which way I should jump in order for the earth to open up and let me fall into my heaven.

I'm not entirely sure what happened next. Did I jump? Or did I lose my hold with my left hand and fall by accident? It might have been a combination of the two. I may have started to jump, leaned into it, changed my mind in mid-execution, and lost my hold because of the leaning.

Anyway, I fell. I landed on my head, and became unconscious. It was about 3 AM on a Saturday night/Sunday morning. I would have died, probably, if the school janitor hadn't come to take care of some off-time business that morning. He arrived around dawn having some stuff to do that he wanted to get out of the way before the start of the school week, and he happened to notice me lying in the gravel at the foot of the jungle gym and called for an ambulance.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Glass: Akhnaten & Satyagraha

Video Finds of the Day

Sometimes Philip Glass' minimalism drives me batty. But his operas Akhnaten and Satyagraha are exceptions. I don't care that they're repetitive. I like what's repeating. You could put Akhnaten on a loop and super-glue earphones to my head and make me listen to it constantly, and I wouldn't complain for, I don't know, a day or two.

It might seem strange that a polytheist would like Akhnaten so much, since it glorifies the reputed founder of monotheism. But what I get from it is not a glorification of monotheism, but of the searing vision. I've had visions. I'm down with visions.

Akhnaten - Prelude:Refrain,Verse 1,Verse 2 (just the sound)

Then, Satyagraha is made of searing vision, too, drawing its words from the Bhagavad Gita.

Philip Glass - Satyagraha (beginning) (stage performance)

Back to Akhnaten, here's a fun presentation in diorama.

The Funeral of Meerkunkhamen

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Cuckoo Clock Speech

Video Find of the Day

After Forbidden Zone, my next favorite movie is The Third Man, which was released in 1949, the year I was born. And my favorite scene in that movie is this one, in which Holly confronts Harry Lime at the Riesenrad, the Ferris wheel in Vienna's Prater amusement park, and Harry (who has faked his own death to put the police off his trail) threatens to kill his old friend Holly to protect his cover, until he learns that the jig is already up. Then on the ground he gives the cuckoo clock speech. The speech was Orson Welles' addition to the script. It's not at all historically accurate. the Swiss didn't even invent the cuckoo clock, and the 500 years of peace is an extreme stretch of the imagination. But even so it makes poetry.

The Third Man (Carol Reed)

Recap + Continuation

[Reminder: Some of my posts, including this one, are memoirs of my abusive childhood. In this post I'm relating events that happened in the spring of 1956, when I was 6 "going on 7". The links to the right can be used to follow backward through the memoirs, or to restrict viewing to other kinds of posts.]

It might be a good idea to stop a moment and summarize the dramatic chain of events of this period so far.

It started with me in first grade telling the class what menstrual huts were. That confirmed my memory of early childhood for my Mother, causing her to ramp up her abuse of me. That motivated me to call my Aunt Alta in DC to beg her help. Aunt Alta snitched, resulting in me being tortured severely by Mom. The torture brought my two personalities into cooperation with each other, causing what psychoanalyst might have called an ego-inflation, and set me up for an outstanding messiah complex episode. Said episode consisted of leading a peace party to the Fort Devens Hispanic neighborhood, which would fail in negotiating for peace only to win the peace after all by me punching the chief war-monger in the nose, but not before he'd done far worse damage to me. The peace was then marked by a march through the Hispanic neighborhood that was not in my personal best interest, and which concluded with three days of unconsciousness at the Post Infirmary.

After a day in bed I was allowed to move around the infirmary pulling an IV stand with me. I could hang out with other kids who were there for whatever reason. Some of them had come in after I did. So I was able to get news from outside. The news was great: the peace was in effect.

So, aside from my misgivings that it took violence, I was pretty happy when I was released to my parents about a week after admission.

Back in school, by then it was probably April, my exuberance expressed itself in a funny way. I remembered I had a plan to try to kiss all the girls in my first grade class before the year was out, and it occurred to me that time was running out. So when the teacher had to leave the class unattended for a while I made the announcement to all the girls in the class that I would kiss all of them that wanted me to.

I'm not making this up: They lined up. All the girls. Well, maybe one didn't. As I recall one didn't get kissed the first time through.

That's right. I kissed all the girls in line and then they got all back in line for a second pass at me, and the holdouts from the first time joined in the second.

I look back on that and I think, what a great lesson to learn! f you're wanting something, try asking!

So there I was kissing the girls for the second time and wondering how many times I could get all the girls to come back around, when the teacher popped back in and caught us all.

Within the hour I was in the principal's office with my parents. My parents had to explain to the principal how they were going to break me of being a monstrous pervert. Over and over again I was told, "Don't you know kissing spreads germs?" I had heard of cooties but I honestly thought they were just some BS that was made up by unpopular people to explain why they were lucky nobody wanted to kiss them.

Turns out, cooties are real! The very next week all the girls and I were out sick and miserable, with an ugly gastro-intestinal disease, with all the vomiting and diarrhea you could ask for.

Right about the end of that week of illness, I recovered, and I was heading outside to play when I met Aunt Alta at the door. She was carrying suitcases and "so happy" to see me and "so worried " about me ever since she'd got my phone call. I asked her why she told my Mother what I told her and she said, "I knew I couldn't be here for you right away, so I had to tell your Mother you needed help until I could get here."

The sheer absurdity of that explanation, given that what I needed help with was escaping my Mother, completely sucked the wind out of me. It brought up all the feelings of anger I had when I had asked for help previously and been betrayed or told to shut up.

The Alex/Alaka'i side of me decided at that moment that Aunt Alta was just a representative haole, that the problem was that I was surrounded by haole, rather than real human beings, and it was time to renew the quest to return to Hawaii. But by now I knew there was no way to get there by ordinary travel. So something extraordinary was called for.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Moscow Nights

Video Find of the Day

This one has English subtitles to the Russian original.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky - Moscow Nights (Proms)

Friday, November 23, 2007


Video Find of the Day

I saw this for the first time on a small screen at Cornell about 7 years after it was released. I think it's what they mean by "drama."

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - child

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Cisco Kid

Video Find of the Day

WAR - Cisco Kid

The Cisco Kid was a friend of mine
The Cisco Kid was a friend of mine
He drink whiskey, Pancho drink the wine
He drink whiskey, Pancho drink the wine

We met down on the fort of Rio Grande
We met down on the fort of Rio Grande
Eat the salted peanuts out of can
Eat the salted peanuts out the can

The outlaws had us pinned down at the fort
The outlaws had us pinned down at the fort
Cisco came in blastin', drinkin' port
Cisco came in blastin', drinkin' port

They rode the sunset, horse was made of steel
They rode the sunset, horse was made of steel
Chased a gringo last night through a field
Chased a gringo last night through a field

The Cisco Kid was a friend of mine
The Cisco Kid he was a friend of mine
The Cisco Kid was a friend of mine
The Cisco Kid was a friend of mine

The Cisco Kid was a friend of mine
The Cisco Kid he was a friend of mine
The Cisco Kid was a friend of mine
The Cisco Kid was a friend of mine

The Cisco Kid he was a friend of mine
The Cisco Kid he was a friend of mine
The Cisco Kid he was a friend of mine

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

An A Capella Treasure

Video Find of the Day

I found this months ago and I have been very good and not posted it for all this time but I can't hold back anymore. I just love it. An a cappella version of a cover version of a Dr. Dre song.

Bitches Ain't Shit - A Cappella


We're talking 1956. So the word Nagual did not have its New Age connotation influenced by Carlos Castañeda, of either a spiritual leader or a shaman. It was a word used to refer to people who had powerful animal companions, or who were sorcerers, or who were vampires, or some of each.

Let's jump ahead to 1962. I'm in the 8th grade, in a Spanish class at Asa Mercer Junior High on Beacon Hill in Seattle. Our teacher has just had us read a passage from a book that refers to naguals. She stops to ask the rhetorical question, "Has anyone here heard of naguals before?"

Having not thought about it for 7 years, never having looked it up, nevertheless I found myself standing up suddenly as if pushed from below and I blurt out, "Yes. I have."

"Really? Alright, what is a nagual?" She said it with a smirk, sure I was going to be way off.

The rest of the class laughed when I said, "I don't know."

"Well, great, I guess all you did was hear the word then, and you saw that as an opportunity to stretch your legs..."

"They said I was a white nagual." The laughter was louder.

"Well," she said, "You're definitely white." Kids laughed so loud they were falling off their chairs.

The exchange was great for the class. What it taught me was that I should look it up finally. What I got was that a white nagual would be one of the evil demons likely to want to suck your blood or eat your heart out. And it's not an idea seen in Puerto Rico so much. The "Puerto Ricans" of Fort Devens had been Hispanics of many cultures. The Anglos had just referred to them all as Puerto Ricans out of general ignorance, which was passed on to me.

Ignorance can be a cultural artifact.

[Below: Hatman could be a nagual.]

Soldier Like Me

[Reminder: Some of my posts, including this one, are memoirs of my abusive childhood. In this post I'm relating events that happened in the spring of 1956, when I was 6 "going on 7". The links to the right can be used to follow backward through the memoirs, or to restrict viewing to other kinds of posts.]

When I opened my eyes again I found myself lying in a bed with a tubes stuck in me. I thought I was under attack again. I screamed and lurched up and yanked the IV out. A nurse ran over and held me down, while another one gave me a shot. Probably a sedative.

The next time I woke up a doctor was looming over me telling me everything was going to be alright and asking me to please leave the IV and catheter in place, as I'd need them for a while.

He told me I was in the Fort Devens Infirmary. He asked me how I got there. I thought that was a stupid question. "I don't know, maybe the MPs carried me."

He said, "No, I mean, what happened that got you beat up? Who did this to you?"

I described Scarface to him. I told him how sorry I was that I hit him but he made me mad when he hit me with the rock. The doctor asked me where I hit him and I told him I got him in the nose.

At that he smiled and congratulated me! He told me Scarface was in fact in a bed at the opposite end of the same children's ward recovering from his broken nose. "We've been hoping for something like this. We believed he has sent dozens of patients to us, but we never had proof it was him, because the victims were all afraid to tell us who did it."

I got the damage assessment. A broken rib, a punctured stomach (hence the vomiting of blood), a sprained right wrist, which I got when I punched Scarface, and my skull had been fractured, again. I had been lying unconscious in the hospital bed for 3 days.

The doctor couldn't believe it at first when I told him where the fight had taken place. It was too far from the gate where I had collapsed. I had to explain to him how I had to make that march to seal the truce which my winning earned me. It took a while for the doctor to grasp what I was telling him.

When it finally sank in, he was simultaneously in awe and horrified. "If the MPs had found you a minute later you probably would have died from blood loss. You should have come straight here." He pointed out that the infirmary was on the way. I kept saying the peace was more important, and he said, "Well see."

But when my parents came to see me a little later the doctor was beaming about it. He told them that I may have single-handedly brought an end to the turf battles in the area. He made it sound like I had freed Paris.

My Father was happier with me than he had been in years. He told me I'd make a good soldier. I said maybe that would be what I would do when I grew up. He said, "Sure, you can be a soldier just like me."

When I heard the words, "just like me" I had a flash-back to my first birthday, and my Father coming home from Korea to throw me head-first to the sidewalk and drive over me. I burst into tears, shouting, "No, no, no,..." over and over again.

My Father said to my Mother, "What did I say wrong now?"

She said, "You should know -- look what kind of soldier you've been. Don't you remember? He does. He doesn't want to be that kind of soldier."

My Father ordered her to shut up. They began sniping at each other. The nurses had them leave so I could rest.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Math Video

Video Find of the Day

A lot of complicated mathematics, and non-mathematics, too, becomes clear when you look at it from a different perspective. This video provides an pretty illustration of that fact.

Moebius Transformations Revealed


[Reminder: Some of my posts, including this one, are memoirs of my abusive childhood. In this post I'm relating events that happened in the spring of 1956, when I was 6 "going on 7". The links to the right can be used to follow backward through the memoirs, or to restrict viewing to other kinds of posts.]

Scarface kicked me repeatedly in the stomach while his four friends held my arms and legs. Finally the two that had been holding my legs let go and walked away, and I slumped to the ground. While I lay there, Scarface examined the scar on my right forehead, smiled, and picked up a large rock almost the size of a canteloupe and brought it down on my forehead.

I passed out for a second or two. When I woke up I was seeing double. Scarface was standing with his back to me laughing with his remaining two buddies, I stood up with difficulty. The others didn't say anything to Scarface, just stared with looks of amazement. The first Scarface knew that I was back on my feet was when I tapped him on the shoulder. He turned to look and I punched him in the face as hard as I could.

He'd made me mad when he hit me with the rock. I didn't appreciate that. So I used my fist for the first and only time.

He screamed, clutching his nose. Blood was gushing out between his fingers. He started bawling and ran off. I waited for the other two to move in on me but they just looked at each other in stunned amazement. I told them I wanted to walk safely through their neighborhood. One said he'd join me, while the other would go and spread the news that I had beaten Scarface.

Jim, who had been watching from a safe distance, came over and told me I had to go to the infirmary. I refused. I had a march to do yet.

Jim and the two Hispanics and I began walking through the "Puerto Rican" neighborhood. It was the housing area closest to the southwest gate that led to the town of Shirley. In my condition the march probably took half an hour. For most of the way Jim supported me. Every few hundred yards I had to stop to vomit up blood. Jim told me I looked as white as a sheet.

All along the way kids who had gotten the news about how the fight ended watched form their yards as I passed by. Some congratulated me, but some others crossed themselves and said things like 'Mira! Nagual!" or "Nagual Blanco!"

Finally I reached a rise in sight of the Shirley gate. At that point the others left me to make the last 100 yards my self, for fear they would have to explain my condition to the MPs guarding the gate. I walked slowly toward the MPs, trying to remain erect and act normal, but when I was about 20 feet from them I collapsed.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Vintage PP&M

Video Finds of the Day

I like the early Peter, Paul & Mary best. This one's from their first album.

500 Miles - Peter, Paul & Mary

Here Pete Seeger introduces them doing his song. This one shows clearly why I had the hots for Mary Travers.

if i had a hammer - peter paul and mary

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Eat Right For Gladness' Sake

Video Find of the Day

In preparation for the Annual Day For The Imposition Of Mandatory Gratitude.

"We are thankful for our Happy Meal! We know Mother knows how to cook it -- and Father knows how to carve it! It is fine to know how to sit up and watch it being carved. At the first Thanksgiving dinner the Indians didn't eat turkey with a fork."

Dining Together - 1950 - Thanksgiving

Peace Takes Some Hits

[Reminder: Some of my posts, including this one, are memoirs of my abusive childhood. In this post I'm relating events that happened in the spring of 1956, when I was 6 "going on 7". The links to the right can be used to follow backward through the memoirs, or to restrict viewing to other kinds of posts.]

I was elected both the leader and the spokesman of the Anglos, while the spokesman for the "Puerto Ricans" was different from their leader. Their leader was a boy that I guessed was 11 or 12, who had a two-inch scar on one side of his face. I was told he got cut by a knife in a fight. It reminded me of the scar on my forehead. It added to the feeling I had that there was no reason for hostility between us.

Scarface didn't talk to me. He had his own right-hand man do it. My guy Jim stood at my side and whispered ideas to me.

The negotiations for peace were a total disaster. I tried to sell the idea that we weren't that different, and peace would be to our mutual advantage. We could move safely in their neighborhood, they could move safely in ours. The notion that we were more alike than different was met with ridicule. As for a promise of safe passage through our neighborhood, the spokesman's answer was simply, "Why would we want to walk among you people? You stink."

Hearing that filled my followers with anger. Some fool said something on the order of "Oh yeah, well so's your mother!" and within seconds a shouting match broke out around me. While I tried to get things back under control, someone else said, "Let's settle things once and for all." The Hispanic spokesman said, "Fine. Not here. Behind the sports arena." They wanted a place out of sight from passing traffic.

So the next thing I know I'm following behind as 130 kids migrate to the back of the sports arena. A circle is formed and Jim squares off with Scarface's spokesman and they have a one-on-one fist fight.

That was the start of what ended up being somewhere around 2 hours of one-on-one fighting. At all times there was one Hispanic and one Anglo inside the circle punching each other. When either one couldn't take it anymore, he was replaced by another from his side. It was like a giant tag-team boxing match.

Gradually kids who got worn out left on both sides. For every Anglo that left, a "Puerto Rican" left, and vice versa, until there were 25 "Puerto Ricans" to 5 Anglos. At that point the "Puerto Ricans" started to act like they'd won, so 3 or 4 began to leave for each one of ours.

All this time I tried to stop the thing, telling everyone they were being crazy. Nobody listened. (A lot like when I write my columns now. How many times have I said the Iraq war was a mistake? I've lost count.)

Jim was the first Anglo to fight and the last to quit, before me. When he finally gave up I was left facing Scarface and 4 of his buddies.

I tried again to negotiate. They called me a coward, and while Scarface stepped back one of the other 4 charged me. I surprised him by throwing him to the ground rather than boxing him. I wanted to use self-defense only. I didn't want to punch anyone.

I just wore the kid out, giving him nothing to do. Then I wore out another one. It looked like I would wear them all out one by one, when Scarface stepped in and shouted some orders to the others. he told them to hold me.

At first two of them held my arms while Scarface tried to hit me, but he couldn't get close enough because I kept kicking at him. So He ordered the other two to hang on to my legs.

With four guys holding my extremities, it was safe for Scarface to get close enough to beat me up.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Georgians In My Mind

Video Find of the Day

There's something eerie to me about both the music and the dance in this video. Maybe it's the certainty that I am being deliberately entranced. Why do they go to all this trouble to numb my will? What are these people planning to do to me when I am speechless and immobile? I don't know but I think there is a major clue in the shirts with the overly long sleeves.


Friday, November 16, 2007


Video Find of the Day

A traditional Polynesian tattoo session, mercifully in black and white.

Funerary Reflections

I just got back from Beth's (Bethe's) funeral. I am very thankful that I could go. I have to thank my friends at Real Change for helping me pay for the plane fare, hotel for one night, and incidental expenses, and Anitra for helping me make the initial arrangements, and Kate, Beth's Mother, for helping me with the hotel for a second night when that turned out to be necessary, and helping me get home.

I have to say how painful it is that we couldn't get help to come together like this before Beth died. I have to say it, not to be critical, but to be truthful. The world is not completely right. I'm not blaming any individual. I'm just pointing out the flies in the soup. I'm not saying anyone purposely put the flies there.

For now, I only want to reflect on the trip briefly. I left early Wednesday morning by plane from SeaTac Airport. I had a wearisome ride to Denver and then on to Dulles airport near Washington DC. The flight had clear skies all the way and the Rockies were spectacular. I observed the way the mountains are shaped by the wind. The wind is channeled by valleys between the outcroppings and diverted upwards creating sharpened crests. And I thought, "Not worn down, but worn beautiful."

Before I left Seattle I thought I ought to bring flowers. But I had no way to get them on short notice. What I did have were a couple of plants that I've been growing in my room. One of them is a big luscious successful spearmint plant, which I have christened Spear-It ("The Spear-It of The Union Hotel.") I'd told Beth I was growing plants in my room and she said it was wonderful, so I thought she'd appreciate it if I brought some prunings of Spear-It.

I took several foot-long cuttings, bundled them and tied them in a knot, and brought them with me.

I was afraid no one would understand. But everyone did. The mint was added to Beth's casket.

Another thing I am thankful for is the earth we were provided with at the end of the burial service, the next day. It was an orangish-ochre clay soil.

Clay is the material from which, it is said, humans were first formed. Clay stands for possibility. It can be anything you can imagine.

That's the essence of humanity. We have infinite possibility. We are the children of clay -- in that sense -- whether the creation stories of Hawaii or Ur are literally true or not. We show our humanity by surprising.

Anyone who dies, dies unfinished. A finished life is a falsehood. It's a comforting myth, but it's a false myth. The true myth is the one that says God created us from clay in His Image. Because clay is inchoate, as God is inchoate. We are meant to be unfinished, as God knows He Himself is unfinished. That is how we resemble Him. When we stop being unfinished we stop being human.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Learning To Unlearn

Video Find of the Day

A fractal animation joined with a narration about Taoism combines two subjects I've discussed with my daughter. I don't know who the narrator is. The tags mention Watts. Perhaps the text is by Alan Watts. I'm sure the narrator is not, he doesn't sound like him. Anyway, it's entertaining. The reference to mathematics is ironic, since the images, however far they may be from circles and the other standard objects of study in Euclidean geometry, are still entirely planar!

Fractal Tao

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Winter, 365 Days/Year

Video Find of the Day

In 1981 if you'd asked me what my favorite music was, I would have said, Vivaldi's Four Seasons. And of the four, the greatest of them would be Winter. Here are the three movements of Vivaldi's Winter, which formed the background of my life back then. (Today, the background would be Sibelius, Opus 47, Violin Concerto in D Minor.)

Nigel Kennedy, Vivaldi - Winter I (Allegro non molto)

Nigel Kennedy, Vivaldi - Winter II (Largo)

Nigel Kennedy, Vivaldi - Winter III (Allegro)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Gods Aren't Worthy

Video Find of the Day

I have some traveling to do Wednesday and Thursday, so I want to get out the Daily Video Finds ahead of schedule. So the goal is to do, after this one, two more by late tomorrow.

I'm a polytheist. That doesn't mean I worship billions of gods, it only means I acknowledge billions. I worship almost none.

"Gloria in Excelsis Deo" ("Glory to God in the highest") is the title of the Great Doxology. I don't do doxology.

J. S. Bach created the music of this hymn for his god. I divert it to my daughter Beth.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Perpetual Light

Video Find of the Day

Explanation of terms and lyrics from the Wikipedia article on Requiem.


Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Te decet hymnus Deus, in Sion, et tibi reddetur votum in Ierusalem. Exaudi orationem meam; ad te omnis caro veniet. Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.

(“Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. A hymn becometh thee, O God, in Zion, and unto thee a vow shall be repaid in Jerusalem. Hear my prayer; unto thee all flesh shall come. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.”)

Kyrie eleison, as the Kyrie the Ordinary of the Mass:

Kyrie eleison; Christe eleison; Kyrie eleison (Κυριε ελεησον; Χριστε ελεησον; Κυριε ελεησον).

This is Greek for “Lord have mercy; Christ, have mercy; Lord, have mercy.” Traditionally, each utterance is sung three times.

W.A.Mozart - Requiem(I.Introit II.Kyrie)


Elizabeth Lines-Browning, Sept. 16, 1981 - Nov. 9, 2007

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Why Johnny Can't Read

Video Find of the Day

Time for another clip from the greatest movie ever made. In this clip Squeezit, AKA Chicken Boy, enters his schoolroom, which looks amazingly like my 1st, 4th, 7th, 9th, 10th, and 11th grade schoolrooms. He has to lead the class in the Pledge of Allegiance. Then Flash's sister Susan (Frenchy), whom I have had hots for over and over again, the dozens of times I have seen this movie, sings. Then Johnny shoots Billy, and the teacher tells him he has to go to Mr. Yodelbean's office, and Johnny says, "You ain't takin' me nowhere, you honky bitch!" and the plot moves thereby.

B-Movie Clip - Forbidden Zone (clip 1)

Fighting For Peace

[Reminder: Some of my posts, including this one, are memoirs of my abusive childhood. In this post I'm relating events that happened in the spring of 1956, when I was 6 "going on 7". The links to the right can be used to follow backward through the memoirs, or to restrict viewing to other kinds of posts.]

I didn't want to lead the peace party to the Puerto Rican neighborhood. I wanted someone else to do it. I found out very fast, like within half an hour, that wouldn't work. As I went about trying to persuade different groups of kids that they should join in the cause I was told that they wouldn't do it unless I was the leader, and then they wouldn't do it unless I beat their little group's leader in a fair fight.

I should explain that a little better. All over the Anglo neighborhoods of Fort Devens the kids formed small groups. You couldn't really call them gangs. Packs might be a better description. Each pack had 5 to 10 kids and they all had a clear leader. And as I tried to draw each such pack into the truce plan, I was told by each they would join if and only if I fought their leader and won.

This was the most insane, crazy, stupid, idiotic crap I'd ever heard from anyone outside of my own insane parents. I wanted to lead a peace army. To get followers I had to fight people? Stupid.

I pointed out to these morons that I was not yet 7 and a lot of these leaders were between 9 and 11. They said if I didn't beat them in a fair fight they wouldn't join. I said how could it be fair, if I'm up against someone 4 years older and almost twice as big? They said, well..., we'll let you pick the rules of the fight.

So I said, OK, clean wrestling, no punching. And that's what I did. I went from one pack to another, drawing each into my cause, by defeating leader after leader in wrestling matches. Altogether I fought enough leaders successfully that I gathered up about 55 followers. That means I probably had to win about 7 or 8 of these wrestling matches. I remember one in particular was won against a big 11 year-old. I'll call him Jim. Jim became my second in command.

Jim tried to analyze my ability to win all those wrestling matches. He noticed that I would start each match as if I was right-handed, and then surprise my opponent with ambidexterity.

In fact, I was ambidextrous. Ordinarily I divided tasks up by hand. I used my right to draw and to use scissors; I used my left hand to write and keep time with songs. But in the excitement of the fights and with both Alex (who preferred the left) and Kona (who preferred the right) active and alert, the two could be integrated and at the same time independent. My opponents probably felt like they were wrestling two of me.

But I thought I had another good explanation. I told Jim that because the cause was peace, God was on my side. Jim repeated the view, already stated many times, that I was crazy.

I was crazy, but after two hours and 7 or 8 wrestling matches I had a peace army of 55 kids aged 6 to 11, and all but one was marching with me to the Puerto Rican neighborhood to offer terms of truce. The other one was already hurrying on ahead to take the news of our march to the Puerto Ricans in advance. He'd been sent half an hour earlier, so they they could know we were coming and could meet us on the boundary of their territory with an equivalent group of their own.

There was no point, I thought, in negotiating with just the first stray Puerto Rican we might encounter. We needed to talk to as many as possible. The idea was to negotiate a truce with all of them.

In hindsight that may have been a poor decision on my part.

The march took about 40 minutes. It ended near the Devens sports arena, not far from the housing area where most of the Puerto Ricans lived. Their "equivalent group" had 75 members. We were outnumbered by 20.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Eagles- Hotel California (1976) Live!

Video Find of the Day

It wasn't long after this song came out that I became so buried in math, marriage, melancholy, and madness that I couldn't hear music for about 7 years. One of the comments on a video of a later and tamer performance reads, "This song is satanic,there is nothing worth my soul." Apparently there are people out there who will sell their souls for non-Satanic songs. I wouldn't, unless I could cheat the buyer out of delivery.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Finnish Cello Metal

Video Find of the Day

"So you want to hear still one more song?... OK, for the end finally we will punish you by playing classical music..."

Apocalyptica - Hall Of The Mountain King Live in Germany

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Riu Riu Chiu

Video Finds of the Day

Two versions of Riu Riu Chiu, the song that I consider the best of the just completed 2nd Millennium. Lyrics and translation can be found here.

Grupo Madrigal Ars Cantus"Riu,riu,chiu"

Riu Riu Chiu (Villancico)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho

Video Find of the Day

Not only a great look at Mahalia Jackson, but subtexturalization (!) to add to BOTH the politics AND the wesmem threads here!

MAHALIA JACKSON Live during European tour late 1960's

-- and here's a bonus soundie with more lyrics, in case you've never heard them and didn't know what Mahalia was going on about.

George London - Joshua fit de Battle of Jericho

Nickels Must Go

Over on Apesma's Lament, Tim Harris -- speaking entirely for himself, ha! -- calls upon Greg Nickels and the city to stop the secret homeless sweeps that have been going on. (See also Swept Clean, but Still Dirty, in the Oct. 31 Real Change.) I already complained about the policy in this week's Adventures in Irony, but reading about it further in Tim's blog got my ire up again, and I wrote this comment, which I'm reproducing here just for the record.

"The fact that this is being done without the knowledge of CEH doesn't relieve them of one iota of culpability. They created the atmosphere.

Greg Nickels belongs in jail for doing this at all. The fact that he has been doing this secretly means he's that much more of a crook. He compounds a crime against humanity with a crime against the open government we are entitled to. He has proved that his contempt for the rights of homeless people extends to an equal contempt for the rights of all the residents of Seattle to know what their government is doing in their names.

Nickels must be recalled."

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Fort Devens Messiah

I said my Mother tortured me by enema for an hour and a half on a Saturday. I don't really know. It's my best guess. So I don't really know if the events of the next day happened on a Sunday. I'm not even sure it happened in the Spring of 1956.

On the other hand, my memory of the events of that alleged Sunday are very, very, clear. For four or five hours, I became a messiah, a warrior of peace, sent from God.

I woke up that morning calm and whole. Alex, AKA Alaka'i, He Who Points The Way, was joined with Kona, The Calm Side, within me. I was a centaur. For this I could thank my Mother and the previous night's torture.

It was, coincidentally, a very good day. The sky was clear. It was warm. It was the first day in months that could be described as having short-sleeves weather.

Consequently, there were lots of children outside, playing in the green marching fields and wide lawns of Fort Devens. I was out among them by 9 or 10 that morning.

Because there were so many kids I'd never seen before that day, I made a few new friends before the news arrived. The news: someone came running up to tell everyone that so-and-so, who I never heard of, was in the hospital, because he'd crossed into the Spics' neighborhood, and they'd broke his arm. It was, I was told, only the latest of a series of violent attacks by one side or another in turf wars between Anglos and Hispanics on base.

I had to ask what Spics were. I'd never heard the word before. I was told they were Puerto Ricans. I asked, "What are Puerto Ricans?" I was told they were Spanish-speaking people who lived on an island. "What island?" They said, Puerto Rico, in the Caribbean.

I was from an island in the Pacific. OK, no, I was born in South Carolina. But my soul was an island soul, my 'aumakua was an island bird, my color was an island color. I thought that I could talk to these Puerto Ricans as a fellow islander.

I had studied Jesus. I had been a Hawaiian Messiah. I knew what Utu was. I could ask the question "What would Kū do?"

Jesus would have fought for peace. So I would fight for peace.

I started telling everyone that we had to go to the Spics and tell them that we wanted peace. We would offer them a deal: they could have free passage through Anglo neighborhoods, and in return, we would have free passage through theirs. Mutual freedom of movement would be the immediate reward, the carrot. Peace would be the long-term reward.

I was told by one of my new friends that I was crazy. There was no way I could lead a party of Anglos to present a truce to the Spics. I said, maybe Jesus was crazy. He said sure, maybe, "He was crucified, you know."

That decided it for me. This would be my crucifixion. Somehow, I would lead the Anglo kids to present a truce to the Puerto Ricans, that very day, or I would be hung to die, or both.

Music To Remember By

Video Find of the Day

My next memoir entry will involve Puerto Ricans in Fort Devens, 1956. While I gather those memories for that post, why not have us a little Afro-Puerto Rican music to go with them?

Alma Moyó: Santurce-video by Dennis Flores

Monday, November 5, 2007

Major Keys Suck

Video Find of the day

At one time in my life I wanted to learn to play the clarinet. It didn't work out. The image I had in mind of me playing clarinet was that of this Azerbaijani video. The image my instructor had in mind was that of a cross between a Western orchestral workhorse and Benny Goodman. I wanted minor keys, and backgrounds like you see here. My instructor insisted I learn major keys, first, and play in front of a dull green curtain. That duck wouldn't fly.

Rauf Kamiloglu -Baki

Torture and Retaliation

[Reminder: Some of my posts, including this one, are memoirs of my abusive childhood. In this post I'm relating events that happened in the spring of 1956, when I was 6 "going on 7". The links to the right can be used to follow backward through the memoirs, or to restrict viewing to other kinds of posts.]

After my first phone call, the long-distance collect call for help to my Aunt Alta, 400 miles away in Washington DC, I felt wonderful. I had done what needed to be done. Help was on its way. In two weeks Alta would be there and, maybe with the help of the police, I'd be taken away to safety. I played happily on the play deck off my bedroom.

In the late afternoon my Father left for some reason. He may have had extra work at the office, or he may have had a night out with the guys. In those days he still played poker or bridge occasionally while my Mother stayed home. I don't remember the reason, I just know he took off for several hours.

When he was gone my Mother found me and cheerfully told me she had a special treat for me. She led me to the bathroom between the Sun Porch and her bedroom, the Master Bathroom. I happened to note the time on a wall clock just before we entered. I also saw the clock on the way out. The special treat lasted an hour and a half.

It consisted of repeated enemas. After each one I had to hold it in or be beaten. I'd get beaten after awhile, because I couldn't hold it in forever. Or I could, so there'd be another. Either way, there'd be another, with the same rules.

[Right: Torturers and child molesters look like this.]

After the fourth or fifth time, I was screaming for her to please stop. She said, "I'll stop when you tell me why I'm doing it. You know why I'm doing this. I want you to tell me why."

It was an hour and a half of torture in every sense of the word. I had to confess a "crime". I wasn't told what the crime was that I was supposed to have committed. In the meantime the torture continued.

I never knew what to confess until my Mother let it be known that she had gotten "a very interesting phone call from Aunt Alta."

While I'd been playing by myself on the play deck, my Mother had received a call from Alta. "WHO DO YOU THINK SHE SAID CALLED HER THIS MORNING?"

I confessed that I called her. That didn't help. There was a long round of screaming and more enemas and beatings. "SHE TOLD ME WHAT YOU SAID TO HER! NOW YOU'RE GOING TO SAY IT TO ME!"

I tried to tell her what I said to Alta. I just wanted it to be over. I don't know what I admitted. I don't think it really mattered. I think she stopped when she did just because she tired of it.

During the torture Kona became aware of the watching of Alex. After she let me go and I crawled into bed, we felt reunited. United against my Mother, and against Alta.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Buryats Rock

Video Find of the Day

Buryats are the ethnic Mongolians who form a large part of the population of the Buryat Republic. The Buryat Republic is part of the Russian Federation. It's in Siberia north of Mongolia. I suppose that's where these people come from, but I don't know! I don't know what they're singing about! It's wonderful!

Nongjiya Group - Buryat folk song

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Oh Please

Video Find of the Day

If Mike Myers had introduced Chess Boxing for one of his Sprockets skits on Saturday Night Live I would have thought it was too silly. Today we find out it's real and they've already had a European championship.

I don't take much interest in sports, but I usually respect the interests of others. However, in this case I can't do it. No respect. This is the stupidest sport ever invented. It rates nothing less than constant, merciless, ridicule.

Chess Boxing

-- Wow, that video became unavailable within two hours after I posted it! OK, here's one that's even better:

Chessboxing in Nantes

Cowardice Rules

Regarding the last post:

Ironically, just yesterday afternoon Anitra, who owes me big time, gifted me with a joint membership in the Madison Market Co-op. So I have a place to buy yeast at a monthly discount. All I have to do is plan ahead, so as not to run out of anything before dark.

I'd sue SaveWay if I could prove they were encouraging vigilantism with favors. But I doubt I could prove that on my own. I need other people who have had something like this happen to them to tell about it, to me or to Real Change.

We live in a police state. When oppression is routine, some cowardly people who don't want to be on the oppressed side are always going to be ready to join the oppressors. When the police rule, everyone is going to want to be the police, including the very street thugs that the citizenry has feared so much as to have let the police state happen in the first place.

What happened to me last night is just exactly what you'd expect to happen in a city that willingly allows downtown businesses to operate their own corp of bicycle cops unaccountable to citizens.

Seattle is a city, by and large, of cowards. Cowards who are afraid of even the sight of poor people in their midst. I've seen middle class Seattleites cross the street wide-eyed with fear, to avoid passing people on the sidewalks who look homeless. The city is now engaged in a war on the visible homeless, taking the war even to the places where they try to hide out of sight. It's appropriate that Greg Nickels is our Mayor. You want a coward to be a mayor of cowards.

Another irony is that over the last ten years that I've shopped at SaveWay I've caught them many times giving me the wrong change, and half those times were in my favor. The money I returned to them, because I didn't want what wasn't owed me, if totaled up, could have bought a couple of cases of honey jars.

I don't want what isn't owed me. I just want the America I was promised.

Land of the Free my ass. More like Land of the Cowards.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Vigilante, Or What?

I got home tonight after 7 PM, and got ready to make a loaf of bread. I've been making a small loaf of bread every day lately, and remembered I was out of yeast. I thought of trying to use the sourdough starter again, but I didn't want to do that much work. So the next option was to go look for yeast in a neighborhood market. I decided to give SaveWay a shot.

SaveWay (not Safeway, the "v" isn't a typo) is technically a Mom & Pop store in Pioneer Square, but it's twice as big as the average Mom & Pop store, so I thought there was a chance yeast could be found there. I'd found flour and cornmeal and baking powder there before. Why not yeast?

It was already dark when I went out. It was close to 8. I don't like going to SaveWay at dark. In spite of its reputation Pioneer Square is not as dangerous after dark as Belltown or Capitol Hill, but I don't like to take chances. I was nervous and keeping an eye out for trouble.

The store is about two and a half blocks from my building. I went in and went straight for the aisle I'd seen the flour in. No yeast. I looked around in all the other aisles. No yeast. I thought maybe I could buy something else I need, so this won't be a totally wasted trip. I saw a huge 7 dollar jar of parmesan cheese that would be a good bargain. I started to take it to the counter, then I thought, I can't really spend $7 right now. I'd need to go to the bank first. So I put the parmesan back. Then I went to the aisle that had the bread. I didn't want any of their horrible bread (there's one reason I want to make my own) but my eye caught the honey. I didn't need any honey but I picked up a jar to see the price, to see if it was cheaper what I'd just seen at Bartell's. It wasn't. I put the honey back.

I wanted to ask the cashier, who happened to the "Mom" of the Mom & Pop, who would have recognized me as a regular, if she had any yeast in the store. But there was a long line, and I didn't want to risk starting an argument with the other customers by appearing to butt in with a question. I decided to just write off the whole trip as a dud. I'd go home, forget about making bread tonight, cook a couple of potatoes instead, and make a note to myself to never go looking for yeast at SaveWay again.

I walked out the door and got about 5 steps away when I heard someone behind me shout, "Hey, you! Come here! I want to talk to you!" It was a guy I'd never seen before. I've been going to SaveWay once or twice a week for ten years, ever since I moved into the Union in November 1997. This guy didn't look like any of the many employees. He wasn't wearing a security guard's uniform.

So I thought I was about to be robbed. I backed away and he moved toward me. I wanted to run back into the store, but he was in the way, so I screamed, "NO!" and ran toward Washington Street, hoping that there'd be witnesses there who would help or call for help. As I ran, I screamed, "LEAVE ME ALONE." I tried to make as much noise as possible, hoping that the people in the store would come out to see what was happening.

I knew I couldn't outrun him. I'm 58. This guy looked to me in his 30s. He caught me just before I got to Washington and swung me down into the street. He pushed me down onto my knees in the gutter in front of a car. He pinned me down and said, "What did you take?! Show me what you took!"

So I thought now he was a thief who thought he saw me take something so he figured could steal from me what I took and be sure I wouldn't report it. That was a terrifying thought because I hadn't stolen anything. I didn't have anything in my pockets from SaveWay. If he went through all my pockets and found nothing worth taking what would he do? He was in a perfect position to slit my throat. I told him he could have anything he wanted.

I heard a noise behind me. I thought someone was approaching. So I started screaming, "HELP! SOMEONE HELP! CALL THE POLICE! HELP!"

A guy came up along-side on a bicycle. The guy pinning me down told the guy on the bicycle I was a shoplifter he'd caught. So I said, "I'm not a shoplifter! Take me back to the store, I'll prove it!" He said, "If you're not a shoplifter, why did you run away?" I said I thought he was going to rob me.

I still think he was going to rob me. He fell back on the "I caught a shoplifter" line because he had a witness now.

He said he would call the police if I didn't show him what I took. I called his bluff and said "PLEASE call the police! That's exactly what I want." So then he said he'd take me back to the store and I'd have to empty my pockets there.

I went back to the SaveWay, with him holding my arms the whole way. When I got to the counter I emptied all my pockets for Mom to see. Mom recognized me, but she didn't want to give me the benefit of the doubt. She told the guy things like, "here's another pocket, look in that one. Maybe the back pockets." There was nothing from the store, of course.

When nothing was found Mom was all smiles. All of the sudden it was no big deal and she was acting like it was all a minor misunderstanding. I asked her if the guy worked for her. She said no.

Now I'm thinking, what the fuck, if he doesn't work for her, why was she treating him like the store security? One of the other customers suggested a possibility: They're paying paying people like this off with 6-packs if they catch someone stealing.

Even after I emptied my pockets and they had nothing the guy wouldn't let up with the accusations. He showed me where he had seen me pocket something. it was where I had priced the honey. The fucking moron had assaulted me for pricing a jar of honey.

I went back to the front and worried about how I was going to get home now. The guy was right there, Mom was acting like it was no big deal, and I had to think this asshole would follow me home and this time haul me into an alley and slit my throat. I was not convinced that he never intended to mug me.

I started getting angry and I raised my voice. "How do I get home when this guy could follow me?" I was about to demand that the police be called when my assailant left. I talked to Mom a little more but now I was pumped up with adrenaline and in no mood to talk softly. I was demanding answers and Mom was just smiling.

After two minutes of that the guy came back to tell Mom that he found a witness who had seen me throw something away that was picked up by an accomplice.

That cinched it. This man himself had his eyes on me from the time I walked out of the store until he caught me and threw me down just short of Washington Street. He would have seen me throw something down. He knew he didn't see me do any such thing. He was lying, trying to back up his claim that I stole to Mom with an "independent source." I told him his friend down the street who fed him that story was full of shit and he knew it and he was full of shit, too, because he knew it, and I said it all in such a tone of voice that Mom asked me to leave. Which I did, without saying another word.

I think the customer was dead on right. I think Mom is paying drunks off with beer to be vigilantes for her store.

Even if I'm wrong, I know this: she didn't give a shit when I protested being assaulted. All she cared about was getting back some item that she thought I might have took off her shelf.

I'm not taking my business to her anymore.

I called the police and made a report. An officer saw me at my apartment, and said he'd go look for a guy fitting my description. If he found him they'd call me and have me go over and ID. If it was the guy I remembered, he'd be arrested for assault. If they didn't find him the officer said at least they'd question Mom.

That was an hour and a half ago. I don't hold up much hope for getting this jerk in jail. The only thing I hope for now is that being questioned by the police about this kind of shit might wake Mom up to the seriousness of it.

Addendum: I just remembered that at one point while initially in the store, I took my wallet out to see how much money I really had. It didn't put it back right away, but had it in my hand just before I priced the honey. To pick the honey up, I first put my own wallet away.

So maybe the moron didn't assault me for pricing a jar of honey. maybe he assaulted me for putting my own wallet in my pocket.

Baby Got Book

Video Find of the Day

So, just 20 minutes ago I was reading about, the Christian imitation of YouTube where Christians can hang out and never face a threatening non-Christian idea, because proselytizing is strictly forbidden when non-Christians do it. (You Christians go ahead, that's what it's there for. Like you need to proselytize so badly you have to set up places where you can even proselytize each other.)

From my perspective GodTube is another video resource. Let's say I'm looking for something with a Christian flavor. Especially a Protestant, Fundamentalist, non-Mormon flavor. Am I going to look for it on YouTube by using a keyword search on "christian" and spend an hour wading through all the other crapola that might be good but isn't what I'm aiming for, or do I let GodTube narrow the search for me?

Well, that's what I did this time.

Baby Got Book

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Mujra Seconds

Video Find of the Day

We saw Nida Chaudhry back in May when I discovered mujra for the first time in Sex, Art, Sex. Here she is again, not quite so scary, because you get to see a hint of the stage comedy that frames these performances.

pakistani mujra

My First Phone Call

[Reminder: Some of my posts, including this one, are memoirs of my abusive childhood. In this post I'm relating events that happened in the spring of 1956, when I was 6 "going on 7". The links to the right can be used to follow backward through the memoirs, or to restrict viewing to other kinds of posts.]

My clever plan worked. I started writing about the very bad chain of events, and the sheer act of writing about it broke the stupidity-lock that was preventing me from recalling the timing of the events.

I forgot about Spring vacations. My 1st grade school broke for Spring vacation. The next event in the chain happened around the third week of March.

My Mother was being especially sadistic because I had demonstrated an ability to recall things that happened to me even before I was one year old. Rape/tortures increased in frequency and severity. I was ready to do something desperate to get out of the situation.

I got the idea to try and get help from Aunt Alta.

Looking back on my childhood I am often pleased at how stupid the ideas I had then were. It would really annoy me now were I to have had amazingly brilliant ideas all the time as a kid. No one wants to be one-upped by their own 6-year old self. I'm glad that I was so ignorant when I was 6. It's because of that I've been able to show so much improvement over time.

Not only did I not know Aunt Alta very well, having only met her a few times when she came to visit during holidays, but she was my Aunt because she was the sister of the woman abusing me. So she was emotionally involved, and altogether the wrong person to seek out if the goal was sanctuary. Of course, the goal WAS sanctuary. I was not looking for her to use her influence to change my Mother's behavior. A plan like that wouldn't have occurred to me at 6 going-on 7. I didn't get that sophisticated until I was 9 or 10.

To ask her for help was a trick, because we lived in Fort Devens, Massachusetts, and she lived at the time in Washington, DC. Her phone number was in a flip-up record book on the table where the phone sat, but it wasn't a direct-dial number. Direct Distance Dialing, using area codes to call without the use of operators, began earlier than 1956, but people weren't using it much by then. If my parents knew the area code for Washington DC, they didn't bother with it, being satisfied to do things the way they always had. My Father actually would say Direct Dialing was "idiotic" -- there's no reason anyone should have to use numbers that long.

["1-206-725-5555" -- idiotic. "PA5-5555" -- silly. "Parkway 5, 5555" -- too many numbers. "Myrtle, could you connect me to Gertrude, please? You, know, Gertrude across the street from me? Thanks." -- genius.]

Fortunately my parents had taught me how to use a phone in case there was ever an emergency. There was one emergency number in those days. You dialed "0". An "operator" answered. She took care of it.

So one Saturday morning while my parents were out shopping I called the operator and told her I needed to talk to my Aunt Alta in Washington DC. It was my first phone call, ever.

I didn't know what a collect call was. I just gave the operator Alta's local number and said I wanted to talk to her. The operator asked how old I was, and I said 6 going-on 7. She said, "Do you have permission from your parents to make this call?" I said no. She said, "Well, then I shouldn't let you put the call through, until you get permission."

I wasn't prepared for that. I thought the operator was just supposed to put the call through. I thought phones were entirely a prepaid service. I didn't know each long distance call added to the bill. I broke down in tears and told her I couldn't get permission from my parents, that's why I had to make the call. I had to get away from my parents.

The operator said, "Why do you have to get away from your parents?" So I started to tell her. I told her my parents had wanted to kill me. I told her that my Mother had tried to smother me with a pillow two years earlier. The operator was concerned but said, "But that was a long time ago, right?" They're not hurting you now, are they?"

So I was forced to try to describe the recent abuse, which was mostly rape and verbal abuse.

No matter how severe verbal abuse is, no one thinks much of it until you act it out for them. Over the years I got really good at acting out my Father's verbal abuse, and I can now do it pretty well. When I do it now, it scares people, and they get it. But as a 6 year-old I didn't have the skill, the voice, and the sheer size to pull off an impression of my Father's abusive verbal attacks.

So that left the rapes. I was forced to find words to describe anal rape, over the phone, to a complete stranger, when the only vocabulary I had consisted of words that were forbidden to me.

As luck would have it the operator was well-suited for her line of work. She was a good listener. Through the tears and my casting around for safe words she finally said, "Oh my God, I'll put you through collect right away."

Alta was reached and she accepted the charges. Now that I was finally talking to her I had to do it all over again. I had to tell her what was wrong and why she should come and take me away from my parents. She wasn't a total stranger, but, really, I knew her mainly as the Aunt who gave me shirts five times a year. I thought she would help because she was said to be a "Good Christian."

[Left: I had seen the family album many times by then, and had often seen this picture of Alta holding me in 1949. She looks happy to have me.]

I went through pretty much the same ordeal I went through with the operator. Like the operator she wanted to discount old news. Maybe neither of them believed I could have reliable memories that old. So I had to describe the rapes. Alta wasn't as good a listener as the operator, and I ended up spelling it out more. I told her my Mother was feeling inside me and making me hurt.

Finally, she said she was planning to come to visit soon anyway, she could just move her trip up. She asked me if I could manage for the two weeks it would take her to get there. I said yes, and she said, "Then it's settled. I'll come in two weeks, and I'll take care of everything. You don't have to worry about a thing."

Yep, she'd take care of everything. I was pretty psyched. Everything was going to be Hunky-Frikkin'-Dory.