The Friends of California Libre...

05 October 2004

In Space No One Can Hear You Screed

Greetings, many friends,
What an interesting month we've been having. In between the departures of old friends for parts far away, the New America shines her jackboots, we've taken the largest leap into the Solar System since the Moon landing, and rather than resist the tidal fury of Los Angeles, I've found the only real way out of it, which is to drift. To drift: to cease planning, to indulge the moment, to stop fighting, to greet silence with more silence, to war against foolish love, to go where you're wanted and cease pathetic struggling against overwhelming ignorance.

After my yearly party and my birthday in late September, I reflect on the space I'm occupying and how things look to shape up for next year. I've found my "happy place", oddly enough, resigned to a brutally demeaning job with little intellectual stimulation, but like I said, better to drift...the same in my interlocutions with you, mes amis, my circle of wonderful friends, who come blasting out of your own crises with supernovae flashes, then disappear back into the interstellar darkness and leave me only the static. Tsk, tsk. Last Friday I had the will and the way to take Ronna on a Hell Ride, and was rewarded for going with the flow and following my instincts, by ending up after a cocktail at the Wild Hare (the new In-Spot) hovering over the absinthe glasses high up on Mount Angelus, in the lovely house of a friend-of-a-friend overlooking Highland Park on a nice cool fall evening.

Anyway, I had an epiphany (as per usual, with the absinthe haloing the bright lights), standing in the front window of the house, my house, the house I'd dreamed of, facing the mouth of the Arroyo Seco as it meets the Los Angeles River, the skyscrapers over Mount Washington, the old bulbs of the Highland Theatre blazing out over the tree-tops. Sometimes we have a dream so fantastic it hovers on the edge of consciousness, never manifested; sometimes a dream so inevitable that when we achieve it, we're disappointed and quickly move along. But up on Mount Angelus I felt a dream slipping between my fingers, my dream of a community separated by cactus and staircases, not miles of freeway, mountains, and weeks between phone-calls. The radio taunts you with such dreams, winding alone in midnight mists on sinuous highways. I had this dream once before, up in Berkeley, but then it was ridiculous ambition and ignorance of the facts of life, leading to physical ruin, self-destruction, madness and in a few cases death. This time, of course, the causes and the consequences are not so severe, age tempers the means and the possibilities, when it should do the opposite. I can blame waking from this dream on pricey real estate, my own racism, wanderlust, mid-life crisis, blah blah blah, but in the morning light I think a certain inbred American individualism is to blame. Not only my own circle of friends, but all of us across the world are seeing an upheaval, a tired acquiesence pushing us down that path-less-taken. Whether it's the condition of our generation or the condition of our age is something I don't know; when I hang out with my 20-something stepchildren, Lucy and Dawn and their ilk, they don't share my angst, but only that 20-something-fuck-the-world thang that I already know all about.
Now we live in the community of cell-phones and long-distance plane flights, an exotic community of misfits scattered from Los Angeles to the center of Africa and the tip of South America, and if we see each other once a year we feel beautiful. I especially owe Bruno and Una and Richie for awakening me to the potential of ever-moving, ever-travelling, shark-like, owing allegiance to no government and no time zone, but only the spinning of the globe itself, the obstacles formed by the movements of the continental plates, and the creative tornadoes of the mind. It's sad, I suppose, but I too am like the shark, pushing forward, and don't have the wherewithal to play the Weird Librarian or the Bad Uncle much longer. My furniture is going out in the street so that someone who needs it can use it; my books go into boxes because I value them and wherever I go, they go. Like I told Julie Bonnie last July, the first step forward is in the mind, so to see my precious books ready to go is the beginning of new dream.
It's a bittersweet feeling, but for this old bachelor a familiar one, the kind of thing you have plenty of time to ruminate about between the candles and the incense smoke and the dim light from LA's glowing night sky alone in your apartment. And so, for y'all, a poem by the Persian scholar Rumi, who was born 797 years ago last Thursday, to celebrate our decade of absurd growth and wonderful madness, and wondering, perhaps, if we'll all meet on the Other Side:
My dear friend
Never lose hope
When the beloved
Sends you away.
If you're abandoned
If you're left hopeless
Tomorrow for sure
You'll be called again.
If the door is shut
Right in your face
Keep waiting with patience
Don't leave right away.
Seeing your patience
Your love will soon
Summon you with grace
Raise you like a champion.
And if all the roads
End up in dead ends
You'll be shown the secret paths
No one will comprehend.
For the beloved, I know
Would give with no qualms
To a puny ant
The Kingdom of Solomon.
My heart has journeyed
Many times around the world
But has never found
And will never find
Such a Beloved again.
Ah, I'd better keep silent
I know this endless love
Will surely arrive
For you and you and you.

And some of my beloveds are whooping it up in Sevilla, as you can see here:

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles the Autumnal Equinoxe always brings a welcome change of weather. The humid, dirty haze of summer is blown out to sea by the Santa Anas, which have started up like clockwork, hot, dry and crisp, followed by cool, fresh nights. When I drive up my street late at night, the constellation of Orion fills my windshield, and the Hunter Orion was the warning to our ancestors far back into Monkeydom that it's time to start sewing together the animal skins for winter. Before you know it, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and then...yeah, let's not even think it...NEW YEAR'S.

PS Trisha sez, please buy pink M&Ms to fight breast cancer. Get them for Halloween, I'd love to hear Kim Light explain THAT to a kid in a Spiderman outfit at her doorstep.

Whatever (W handsign over forehead), on with the screed that you need. Somebody asked me: Did John Kerry win that debate? Sure, why not. But the word "win" doesn't seem as sweet when you're facing that smirking idiot who thinks he's got the whole shebang fixed anyhow.
It Was a Rout By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t Perspective

I think perhaps the "dislikeability" of Mr. Bush (if I can use that word) blinded us to the essential nature of the war in Iraq, that it was no less inevitable than Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, Mr. Clinton's attack against Serbia, or theirs against their Albanian population, our adventures in Somalia, Panama, Haiti, etc. Since we've lost our "enemy" (the Soviet Union) there is no longer any way to pin it on the Commies; no, there is a military industry in this country, and just as the French once needed buyers for their Exocet missiles (anyone remember the "Tanker War" of the 1980s?) we need a place to keep our army busy and the munitions factories humming. If you think I'm exaggerating, read one of William Shirer's autobiographies when he was a press agent in Nazi Germany. They didn't just invade Poland for fun; they'd ramped up their munitions industry as an answer to the Great Depression and couldn't bring it back down to a peacetime answer which, incidentally, worked nicely for the Japanese and the USA as well. And now we find ourselves again hanging onto economic growth by our nails, driven literally by the need to kill people on the other side of the world. One thing will never be the same, Bush or not, Kerry or not, and I'm not talking about 11 September, and that's a feeling of mutual respect. Even solid pals like the Australians and the Canadians will wonder who's what when we start fingerprinting them coming across the border or into the airport. There's no going back from "no more Mr. Nice Guy", as I know personally all too well.

Well, I think I'm ready to take back my earlier contention that Iraq, even at its worst, was no Vietnam. What's worse, civil war or anarchy? Beheading prisoners or flaming monks? What if YOU lived there (thanks, Ellen)?

Yeah, the best way to liberate a country is to destroy it utterly, and send the entire population onwards.
U.S. Conceding Rebels Control Regions of Iraq
By Eric Schmitt and Steven R. Weisman
The New York Times
One by One, Iraqi Cities Become No-Go Zones
By Dexter Filkins
The New York Times
Report: Civil War Most Likely Outcome in Iraq
By Tom Regan
The Christian Science Monitor

I mean, how can we win? Can you imagine the circumstances, visualize the sunny day when we have drinks together in the Baghdad Hilton?
Freed Italian Hostage Says Iraq Rebels 'Justified'
Freed Italian Says Rebel War Is Justified By Ian Fisher The New York Times

Like the Italians really know what the hell they're doing, anyway:
Soccer teams in trouble for Mafia tribute

Well, at least in Afghanistan everything is going according to plan:
Afghanistan I: Back to warlords and opiumJ. Alexander Thier NYT
Our efforts in Afghanistan are underfinanced and undermanned, and our attention is waning.

Our bad behavior has set an everyone wants to grab a piece:
Denmark to Claim North Pole, Hopes to Strike Oil

We won't even talk about Cat Stevens getting thrown out of the country...actually, he should have been thrown out years ago, when he endorsed the death sentence fatwa against author Salman Rushdie. But now? Did you see that poor ol' chubby hippie in flip-flops dragging his trolley behind him? AND HE'S SO DANGEROUS THEY HAD TO LAND THE JET IN NEWFOUNDLAND?? Are we now against this man, and prohibited from mouthing this classic, which I'm dedicating now (should've years ago) to the young girls who need it most, Adela, Genevieve and (ha) Lorinda...GIRLS IT'S ALL TRUE:

Now that I've lost everything to you,
you say you want to start something new,
and it's breaking my heart you're leaving,
baby I'm grieving.
But if you wanna leave take good care,
hope you have a lot of nice things to wear,
but then a lot of nice things turn bad out there.
Oh baby baby it's a wild world,
it's hard to get by just upon a smile.
Oh baby baby it's a wild world.
I'll always remember you like a child, girl.
You know I've seen a lot of what the world can do,
and it's breaking my heart in two,
cause I never want to see you sad girl,
don't be a bad girl,
but if you want to leave take good care,
hope you make a lot of nice friends out there,
but just remember there's a lot of bad and beware,
Oh baby baby it's a wild world,
it's hard to get by just upon a smile
Oh baby baby it's a wild world,
and I'll always remember you like a child, girl.
Baby I love you, but if you wanna leave take good care,
hope you make a lot of nice friends out there,
but just remember there's a lot of bad,
and beware, beware,
oh baby baby it's a wild world,
it's hard to get by just upon a smile.
Oh baby baby it's a wild world,
and I'll always remember you like a child, girl.

I mean, are these people completely sane? YOU CAN'T EVEN WRITE A NOTE IN ARABIC?? - Note prompts flight cancellation - Sep 21, 2004*
or (thanks, Miles):

And what genius was responsible for this fuck-up:
Vibrating Sex Toy Shuts Down Airport

Nope, it's all a joke. The real war is going on all around, but nobody cares:
Amid Cheers, Terrorists Have Landed in the U.S. By Julia E. Sweig and Peter Kornbluh Los Angeles Times
To curry favor with Cuban Americans, Bush turns a blind eye.

New Yorkers won't get their due:
C.I.A. Unit on bin Laden is Understaffed, a Senior Official Tells Lawmakers
By James Risen
The New York Times

We'll be seeing whacked-out Iraq vets on TV dramas in a few years:,3604,1305360,00.html
Far graver than Vietnam
Most senior US military officers now believe the war on Iraq has turned into a disaster on an unprecedented scale
Sidney Blumenthal
The Guardian
"Bring them on!" President Bush challenged the early Iraqi insurgency in July of last year. Since then, 812 American soldiers have been killed and 6,290 wounded, according to the Pentagon. Almost every day, in campaign speeches, Bush speaks with bravado about how he is "winning" in Iraq. "Our strategy is succeeding," he boasted to the National Guard convention on Tuesday.

Poor people who just wanted to pay for college got more than they bargained for:
Report: U.S. May Run Out of Guard and Reserve Troops for War on Terrorism
Agence France Presse

Nobody is safe:
Thieves Rob Brazilian Bus Full of Policemen

As you might have seen in the debates, politicians talk shit while we're all in danger:
Why the West is Losing
By Eric Margolis
The Toronto Sun
Three years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, America's politicians and media continue to gravely deceive the public about the so-called war on terrorism.

In Europe, on the other hand, terror is an old friend:
Headline: Europe's terror fight quiet, unrelenting
"MADRID -- A city-bound train rumbled along with purpose on the samecommuter line where bombs inflicted brutal carnage more than six monthsago, killing 191 people and wounding hundreds in the worst terroristattack in Europe in decades."

I hope in Europe, the non-difference between war and terror is recognized:
Time to Recognize State Terror - by John Pilger*

But for these American patriots, our Land of the Free can do no harm, no matter how many people hate us or are left dead by us:

Not the "global test", but a complete, horrified lack of any support:
I was wrong to support the Iraq war
Dominique Moïsi IHT
Friday, September 24, 2004
I belong to a small minority of French citizens that in 2003 supported the war in Iraq. I did so for two reasons.
Europeans are not persuaded by Bush
Patrick E. Tyler/NYT The New York Times
European newspapers were largely critical of President Bush\'s address on Tuesday to the United Nations.
Europe to Bush: Go Away By Vivienne Walt San Francisco Chronicle
Kerry Is Widely Favored Abroad
By Keith B. Richburg
The Washington Post

Meanwhile, our animal friends are taking advantage of our distraction:
Smarter than the average Canadian bears on grizzly crime spree
Canadian Dog Drives Off As Owner Watches Hockey

And for those of you who spend your limited time in my apartment ripping on the city I've found more liveable than yours, I say, it's not just Canadian wildlife exceeding expectations. I mean, how could I not like a city where:
Vancouver hookers run book club, wonder why people think that's strange

Nope, I'm wont to declare my family's 369 year stint in the Colonies at an end:
Meanwhile: When I was a child, I believed in America
Gina Doggett IHT
Thursday, September 16, 2004
As a 10-year-old in Saigon in 1964, I had only a child's understanding of my father's work. I was just a foreign service brat.

I mean, American family values have changed:
Family Chicken Feud Turns to Gun Battle

Not that our "enemies" have such great family values:
** 'Jihad' magazine for women on web **
Radical Islamists launch magazine on the internet with tips for women on how to combine family life with fighting holy war.
< >

And some of them are going to be doing more than isolated sniper attacks and roadside bombs; read this warmongering screed by this ultra-right whack job and you might want to dig a bomb-shelter, especially if you check out his own website:
> Subject: [disc] Iran's Nukes: Not If, but When
> To: Behrad Nakhai
> Iran's Nukes: Not If, but When --
>Written by Alan Caruba
> If you want an object lesson in why Sen. Kerry’s assertion that simply by working with our allies to solve threats to our nation and elsewhere around the world is wrong, wrong, wrong, I direct your attention to the nation of Iran.
> About the Writer: Alan Caruba writes "Warning Signs," a weekly commentary posted on, the website of The National Anxiety Center.

Nope, even one of our successful experiments in democracy (which should not, by the way, be underestimated) is against us now, the Japanese:

Well, anyway, here's some good news...there's a few less guns out there:
U.S. and Russia Still Dominate Arms Market, but World Total Falls
By Thom Shanker
New York Times

So I say to you, at last, my European friends, beware us Americans bearing forgiveness and DVDs:
Take Two: 9/11 Letters By Arthur Schlesinger and Timothy Garton Ash
The Guardian U.K.
Arthur Schlesinger tries to allay European anxieties about the bellicose new America. Timothy Garton Ash replies.

Not that Europeans are perfect; here's a fun article about British binge drinking:,8150,1297760,00.html
On the streets of binge Britain
Every weekend, Britain's town centres are transformed into scenes of drunken mayhem and soaring levels of violence. Jay Rayner visits the front line and asks whether licensing laws are to blame or a drinks industry that has wooed a generation with cheap alcopops and vodkatinis
The Observer
The middle-aged woman sprawled on the ground in front of me, in her black dress and perilous night-out heels, will definitely have a headache in the morning. She'll deny it was the booze of course, however much she has had, just as her son will deny it was the booze that caused him to tumble backwards into her as he was ejected from the pub for being drunk and unruly, so that her head hit the pavement with a dead clunk. He'll continue to insist the doormen assaulted him, even though the police have already checked the CCTV footage and satisfied themselves they did nothing of the sort.

And finally, speaking of drunks, here's yet another reason why I don't cotton to Russians: - Kalashnikov launches liquid weapon - Sep 20, 2004*

Credit for the enclosed photo to Ms. Dorothy, and the cartoon is my doing.

Vive le Screed!

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