LIBYA? LIBYA? LIBYA? Poor Uncle Gaddafi!

It's the money, really, that means everything in the end, isn't it?

Let me see, it was the Christmas season and I was wandering the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica snapping pics with the point and shoot and this is one of the images I ended up with. Maybe it’s the gross commercialization that links Uncle G in my mind to this. Certainly nothing is sacred where money is to be made. Especially human lives.

NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING.  And that’s the single truth of the world. And that’s debatable as well.

SOMEBODY, SOMEWHERE, must know something. Don’t count on it though.

How many think tanks does it take to screw in a regime change? Or unscrew a regime change?  Could the think tanks answer that one?

Naturally, of course, the answers would vary and  depend upon who’s paying and how much. No, that’s wrong.  It’s really just how much – they actually don’t care who pays.

You see, I have been digging through the digital garbage of several think tanks recently trying to get a handle on Libya. I’d just like get some understanding of the situation, you see. Well! Here’s a couple of  quotes about Libya that you might find interesting (from 2007). Comes from one of those prominent think tankers:

“Libya under Gaddafi has embarked on a journey that could make it the first Arab state to transition peacefully and without overt Western intervention to a stable, non-autocratic government and, in time, to an indigenous mixed constitution favoring direct democracy locally and efficient government centrally.”

Further: “Completely off the radar, without spending a dollar or posting a single soldier, the United States has a potential partner in what could become an emerging Arab democracy smack in the middle of Africa’s north coast.”

This crap appeared in the Washington Post! Written by Benjamin Barber. He wrote a book once about education that was full of solemn vapors and a kind of academic ethereal philosophical mist that comes in a degree-laden canister with directions to spray over every page before reading. It was full of ideas that obscured everything, especially the students.

But this isn’t about Barber. He’s only a symptom. Just one microbe of a broad-spectrum infection that’s spread throughout our media.   This is more about the corporately mind-boggled machinations that get such a stupid puff piece about a tyrant like Gaddafi onto the pages of The Washington Post. (Is that paper, like, actually, like, edited, anymore?) Somebody wanted people to think kindly about the monster. Good for business, you see. Stability. Those retirement condos or whatever. To hell with the people living in the country.

It turns out that some of those people who wanted everyone to cuddle up to Uncle Gaddafi were working for or with a pus-filled entity called The Monitor Group. The Monitor Group is a consulting firm.  According to a recent article in Mother Jones, Monitor had a $3,000,000 a year contract to spread touchy-feely stories about Uncle Gaddafi. Barber, according to Mother Jones, visited with Libyan “officials” and even talked with Uncle G. himself as a “paid consultant” for The Monitor Group. Next thing the Washington Post is printing stories about Uncle Gaddafi and his wonderful new sensitivity.  

 Has there ever been a successful tyrant or a despot or a dictator or monster who lacked a certain charm?  The kind of charm that spritzes out from malicious sincerity and perfumes the air? That masks the fearful odors of people terrified of speaking out against them, or the stench of the carcasses of those people who have spoken out?

That kind of  charm can slip rings through the snouts of  paid sycophants, and it’s not easy to remove them.

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In England’s Lake District there is a town called Keswick. It’s a wonderful, beautiful town located on the edge of Derwent Water, an exquisite lake. Wife and I love staying in one of the B & B’s/hotels in what is called The Heads. Last time we were there, our room had a turret! We could climb up the stairs and sit on the window seat and read and look out over the lake and gorgeous scenery. Image above is the main street of Keswick, town hall in the back and some fantasy thrown in just for fun.

The turret toom

This is the turret room. I was standing on the window seat. My first lottery winnings will go to adding a turret to our house along with a view of some lake equal to Derwent Water. Talk about tranquility! It’s easy to forget what that is. What you see below is the view from the turret room. Wife dragged me around the lake on a hike one day. Fortunately. Keswick is one of those places that is so beautiful that it can lull you into believing that the whole world is like that. 

Seemed to whisper "yes" in every direction.

What we have now is a segue, a leap to the magic and a re-connection with a couple of Aussies. The stuff above about Keswick was just my way of not spewing about Charlie Sheen. Thought I’d start with something beautiful instead of sick.

I’m still breathing slowly and steadily so it must be working.

Just for your information, in the Aussie version of Cockney rhyming slang, a “septic tank” is a Yank, which, of course is short for Yankee, which is someone who is often told to go home. As in “Yankee Go Home!” As in an American.

Then there are the New York Yankees, the scurrilous baseball team.

Even on Wikipedia nobody knows for certain where the word came from. It apparently showed up around 1759 or so.

Actually, “septic tank” might also be the Cockney slang for Yank.

It was Drew Brien, an Aussie of true aristocratic bearing, who told me that “septic tank” was a slang term for a Yank. He informed me of this somewhere in Turkey, in the summer of ’83.

We were probably walking down some dusty pathway leading to Greek ruins. Or we might have been following the depressions of old Turkish trench lines on top of the steep hills overlooking the beaches at Gallipoli where thousands of Australian and New Zealand soldiers were killed by the Turks in WWI.

That slaughter was Churchill’s fault, I think. I believe he came up with the idea of attacking the “soft underbelly of the Balkans” and figured the Anzac forces could do it.

Anyway, visiting those graves at Gallipoli was a moving experience. To see row after row . . . well, I won’t dwell on that. The fact is that I never would have visited the Gallipoli site if I hadn’t been traveling with Charmaine and Drew. The truth is that from the time I left Belgrade until I reached Athens several weeks later, their compansionship proved to be one of the highlights of all my travels.

This morning I wrote them another email. I think they were slightly skeptical about who I was after receiving my first email. You know how the CIA et al work these days. I don’t blame them.

To understand the full story here, you can read the “Magic, perhaps” and “Charlie Sheen” posts.

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FREE LIBYA! ليبيا حرة! and the rabbit returns!


The Arabic above is the translation of “Free Libya.” Courtesy of my computer’s translation function. If it is not accurate, blame Microsoft.

In human life perspective is everything. Indulgence and devastation, making merry and mayhem. Now, isn’t it strange that you can watch them simultaneously? We are becoming more and more omniscient, able to view and judge instantly the events of the world. How long before we know what every individual is doing, not just masses of people?

Each one of us a little god-creature watching everything.

Is it inevitable that the entire planet eventually becomes one unified reality show, subtitled or dubbed globally? How long do we have? It begs the question of freedom.

Something absurd about the irony of being able to watch almost at ground level the struggle for freedom in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya while at the same time submitting to the vast “digitrol” ( digital/control – a neologism?) of humans by a myriad of devices that allow (or “permit”?) us to observe and vicariously participate at the same time.

I wonder how the public employee  unions are doing in Libya. Oh, wait. They didn’t have those in Libya! That’s right. Now I remember. In a totalitarian system, people who merely work as a public employee don’t have collective bargaining. They have to take the peanuts those in power toss them.

By the way, the image above comes courtesy of the Jude Law Hamlet performed in London couple of summers ago. My wife, you know, had to see it. Jude wasn’t bad. Anyway, at intermission I went outside to stretch, took a quick walk around the theater and snapped a couple with my point and shoot. Then the image got sort of political.

MONKEY NUMBERS AGAIN: Charlie Sheen this morning came in at 522, 000, 000! Or, to put it scandalously, over one half of a billion. Who, I wonder, will be the first global celebrity to hit 1,000,000,000 in the Google Monkey Number lottery?

I have my own guess. I’m putting my money on Prince William. Dude who’s getting married this whenever. But maybe not. He has an anemic 19,800,000 right now. Before Sheen went cosmic, I wonder what he had.

Me? A long shot. I’m hovering. I’ve reached a comfortable plateau. Google “Nights of Naked Mannequins,” and you get about 5,800. But here’s something that truly annoys me – and the pettiness of it is not lost on me, by the way.

Google my name, “Michael Lee Phillips,” and you first get a  Congressman for Chrissake! A guy who won’t breathe before some lobbyist toady explains to him how its done. Damned Republican, of all things – back there in Maryland, wherever the hell that is. Jesus. It’s not fair, really. I’ve read some of his stuff. His speech writers are so bad they sound like a Congressman. If he’s writing it himself, he needs a ghost writer.

To get some perspective on things, I Googled “Libya.” Fortunately, I came up with 655,000,000. I honestly don’t know what I would have done if Sheen had rung up a higher number.

Nothing that I can come up with has notched over the magical billion. But it won’t take long.

Great news, which I will elaborate upon tomorrow! The Internet can be magical! Out of its hat I have contact! An email from the lost Aussie couple!

More tomorrow.

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A painting done at one of my favorite spots, a magical place for me.


Still no rabbit. No magical moment. I have as yet received no response to my email. Many possible explanations, as any email user knows. I will keep my cursor poised above the hat. Something is bound to happen. Who knows what might come out of this hat. Charmaine Caskey is the woman’s name, Aussie to the core.  I would love to get in touch with her and tell her how much I miss having tea from a samovar while she and her husband, Drew, explained the world to me.

 The above painting is my homage to Andrew Murray, a British “primitive” artist whom I discovered for myself in the ‘80’s. He did this very same view in one of his paintings which became a poster that was sold all over London at one time. I bought one and it hung in my work space until I departed. It provided a nice visual retreat from the abyss I had to look into all day.

(By the way, if you turned around and looked in the opposite direction of the British Museum, you would see The Plough on the next corner. The Plough is where my wife and I spent part of our first date. It’s where my most sacred poem, “The Tongue and the Blonde,” takes place.)

Bad copy of Andrew Murray poster. He really fudged the picture!

Above, in fact, is Murray’s interpretation of the nearly same view. This intersection is near the center of my London “village.” Russell Square is roughly the center of that “village.” It’s interesting that Murray put the entrance to the British Museum at the end of the street, which it clearly is not. I will not admit to you how many years it took before I realized that.

 The text on my painting refers to “entropy,” which, as everything continues to accelerate, seems to me the dominant feature of this hurtling planet. Entropy basically means “a process of degradation,” or “a trend or movement to disorder.”

All you have to do is think of Charlie Sheen to see the current human embodiment of entropy. Drugs basically create a lot of entropy in human biological systems that ingest them. A huge amount of “disorder” starts happening in the ingester’s life.

Then, if they have no regard for other humans but are only capable of thinking about themselves, these creatures inflict their illnesses on others. In Sheen’s case, he has no qualms about going viral (here a truly apt term!) with his sickness. He’s a bag of pus that has ruptured.  And stupifyingly credulous and co-dependently indulgent media are delivering his pus to the world.


Sheen is the modern equivalent of a carnival geek. No, not the nerd type of geek, not the Bill Gates type. In the old days of carnivals, geeks were the bottom rung. They had no real talent so they resorted to the outrageous to entertain. They would bite the heads off of chickens, for example, and suck out the blood.

Sheen would bite the heads off his own children if he thought it would get him a sound bite. You can’t get away from him. I don’t even own a television. I’ve never watched his show, yet a congregation of his foul vapors follows me everywhere.

He degrades our lives. There should be fines for that!

And here’s something else degrading and a symptom of our sick time. More entropy: Ohio is following Wisconsin in targeting the rights of its American citizens to collective negotiate their working conditions. Two retro-states, having performed U-turns in the middle of the road of progress are now racing backwards, to the ‘50’s? ‘40’s? Perhaps they can take back the voting rights of African Americans while on their way to the Middle Ages.

I think Charlie Sheen would make a fine spokesman for both those states, their regard for human dignity being so similar and all.

I apologize. This was going to be a post about some fun travels in Turkey with Charmaine and Drew that, eventually, got me a small poem or two, or three. Next post, I hope.

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This is the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. The name comes from the iznik tilework decorating the inside. It was finished about 1616. It has six minarets, which was controversial at the time. Mecca also has six.


I once took the train from Belgrade, Yugoslavia, to Istanbul, Turkey. The trip took nearly two full days and gave me a profound education about human life. I boarded the train in Belgrade as a simple minded American, and when I stepped off the train in Istanbul, I took my first step as a global citizen.

I was almost arrested crossing Bulgaria. I made a big mistake, and the consequences were terrifying. I got a close look at the skull beneath the face of tyranny, and it changed forever how I understand the world. It wasn’t funny at all, even though I ended up writing a poem about the incident, which I titled, “Globalization of Humor.”


Because of my travels, especially to several countries that were behind the Iron Curtain at the time, I get a little touchy when the rights of people are threatened or (Wisconsin!) taken away.

Totalitarian isn’t always synonymous with “foreign.”  One wonders how long it will be before crossing a place like Wisconsin will be like Bulgaria in the old days.

How long will it be, folks, before this whole country is in a cold war with itself?

But back to Turkey. That’s where this magic thing started anyway.


I don’t know if magic is the apt term here. Something nice and unexpected in my life, maybe that’s better.

I wanted to see Troy, the ruins of Troy. That was one of the reasons I went to Turkey. But by the time the train was rounding the Golden Horn and the Beauty of the Bosphorus swept into view, I realized that there was more to see than I would ever have time for.

Politically, it was just about the worst time to visit Turkey. It had been under a military dictatorship for three years, and tourism had nearly disappeared. From the day I stepped off the train in Istanbul until a month later when I left Marmaris on a small boat bound for Rhodes, I didn’t see, let alone encounter, another American. Not even from Wisconsin.


I traveled with a couple from Australia. Drew and Charmaine. We met on the train platform in Belgrade and discovered that we had tickets for the same train to Istanbul. Not only that, we also discovered that our itineraries nearly overlapped. We both planned to swing down the coast of Turkey. There, at least at first, our plans diverged.

Yeah, the Australian couple, Drew and Charmaine, are part of  my minor unfolding wonderful thing here, courtesy of the internet, which may or may not come true, but it’s getting close. As it turned out, I traveled with them for a month or so through Turkey and Egypt. A wonderful time! We argued about everything, shared meals, buses, a billion cups of samovar-served tea and just had a great time in general. They were expert budget travelers and taught me a lot.


We eventually split up in Luxor, Egypt. They were going deeper into the desert, and I would wander my way north to get stuck for a week in Alexandria before departing for Greece etc.


I never saw them again. In fact, I’ve never communicated with them at all since Luxor (did I send/get a postcard?). I lost their address somewhere along the way, something I’ve never really forgiven myself for. And worse, by the time the Internet came along, I could not correctly remember their last names!!

But . . . yesterday, after I started to write this entry, I ploughed through old garage boxes looking for my journal of that year  (’83). I thought it would spur the memory. I couldn’t find the journal for ‘83! Frustrated, I picked up ’82 and started reading about trips through the Soviet Union, East Germany and other Wisconsin-like territories.

Eureka! First, folded and jammed into crush of other papers of various kinds – mostly ticket stubs, etc. – was a scrap of paper which I almost discarded without looking at it. Instead I unfolded it and discovered the Aussie’s names and addresses! How the hell did it get into the ’82 journal? The address, however, was (as they had told me) a temporary p.o. box. they were using while they traveled the world.

But I had their names. This morning, after a considerable search, I believe that I have come up with Charmaine’s email address. I hope. It’s her work email. I have emailed her, but due to time differences I don’t expect any response for several hours. If it’s not the right Charmaine?

I keep digging.

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This pic started as near-sunset photo taken in Inyokern, CA. Then I had some fun with it.   You’re looking down the north side of the main street. Across the street from where I stood is an excellent Mexican restaurant, Bernardino’s. Quotes are from Macbeth. He’s visiting the witches, and they call him wicked.

 You can learn so much from foreign countries. I guess that’s why, except for the one you live in, all countries are foreign. They have so much to teach.

Germany is a foreign country. We (that is, the United States of America) have over 200 military bases (from eensie weensie ones to big, big ones) in Germany, yet Germany remains a foreign country. That’s quite an achievement for any old country, let alone one that went through so much during the last century.

A close friend of mine is living in Berlin now. Berlin is the city that tore down its wall a little over twenty years ago. It was called The Berlin Wall, and probably millions of people at one time or another took pictures of it and then stood around talking about it. I was such a person once. That was in 1982. I took several pictures of the wall (one is featured in the previous blog, except that I made the wall itself prettier by putting nice colors on it).

My friend takes the dog out and walks and runs with it in these wonderful parks which Berlin has. He loves it. Apparently, the dog does too. The air is bracing, my friend tells me. My friend never saw the once-famous Berlin Wall in person. He probably crosses right over where it stood many times in a week or so without even knowing it.

The air in Berlin – and throughout all of Germany, quite frankly – was at one time not bracing at all. Indeed not. It was distinctly oppressive. Not only was the air oppressive, but everything in  the country was oppressive. Look it up, if you don’t believe me.

The oppression (what multiple oppressive elements create) turned quite nasty and you can look that up too. It got so bad the country ended up divorced from itself, kind of. That’s why they got their once-famous Berlin Wall. A nasty period of time.

Millions of people died as a direct result of all the oppression and especially the amount of fighting it took to try to keep the oppression going. That’s important to remember. Oppression takes a shit load of military to keep it functioning, and eventually a whole lot of people will die from it. You see, once oppression starts, it’s damned hard to stop it. One reason is that the people who are being oppressed will often fight to the death to defend it. It’s like they get forced to or something.  Oppression is funny that way, but really no one laughs much.

There are lots of countries in the world suffering from oppression. You know who I’m talking about. A lot of them keep making big news out of it, in fact. In this country, that stuff can get in the way of the Grammies or the Oscars, and people find it a bit too much, really. That’s part of the reason why they’re foreign countries. Oppression is always cropping up hither and yon in different foreign countries.

I hate to keep harping on Germany, but if the jack-boot fits, as they say. Germany was the nonpareil of oppression at one time. Their oppression got so evil it started beating up on other foreign countries. You see, eventually oppression isn’t content with only its domestic product. Soon as a military muscle can be flexed, it wants to export it. Invade a country or two, perhaps, smash them about.

If I were living right now in Iowa, say, or Minnesota or Illinois, I might want to make sure that all your planes were fuelled. And make sure that some of them are always flying.  How’s the air there, folks? Bracing? Keep your weathermen on alert. You damn well want to know which way the wind is blowing up in that area of the USA. Maintain all the radar. My prediction is for an extended heavy front originating in Wisconsin that’s going to take a helluva long time to pass through your neck of the woods, and it isn’t going to be satisfied until it has a noose around it. Something wicked your way is coming fast.

Why do two books come to mind here? You know, It Can’t Happen Here, by Sinclair Lewis, and the world champion of oppressive-themed novels, of course: 1984, by George Orwell. Ah, but that’s fiction.

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Wisconsin! Wisconsin! Wisconsin! – had I three ears I’d hear thee (Macbeth)

A message for workers in Wisconsin

The pic above seems more and more appropriate as the events in Wisconsin continue.  From a photo I took in Berlin, 1982. The wall. You could see the wall in Berlin back in those days.  The wall going up in this country is not visible now. But you can see how it will appear in the future by watching the news from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other countries.

An American prophet once said,  “There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, and upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!!!”

Mario Savio, 1964

Christ! That time has been here a long time!!!!

Events in Wisconsin invite comment. They turn my stomach.

I was a member of two unions. The first one was the Longshoreman’s Union. I was young and ignorant of the world (I had not yet gazed at sunsets over the Aegean), a dirt level laborer, shovel and wheelbarrow, earning wages. The work was brutal and dehumanizing. It was work with a message attached to it. Like a banner the company wanted to hang over your head wherever your shovel hit the dirt, and the words on the banner would say, WE OWN YOU!

But there was another message, and I carried that one in my wallet, and it said, NOBODY OWNS YOU. YOU ARE AN AMERICAN. YOU HAVE RIGHTS, AND WE WILL PROTECT THOSE RIGHTS. That was my union card.

You see, the company didn’t own me. They didn’t own me because our union wouldn’t let them own me. Because of the union, the company could employ me in a mutually bargained and contracted understanding of work, working conditions and wages for the work. That was the American way.

Years later (and many sunsets over the Aegean!) I was in another union. This was a teachers’ union. The California Teachers’ Union. CTA, long may it fight. My only regret about the teachers’ union is that I wish that it had the balls that the Longshoreman’s had. The testosterone.

I mean that literally. Here’s a stat that says a lot: about (slight variations depending upon a bunch of factors) 75% of ALL TEACHERS in America are women. It’s been that way for decades. Men don’t teach this country. Women teach this country.

Scumbag lawyer proposal being burned at a teachers' rally. Photo by wife.

Women teach this country, but they don’t wield the power in this country. In Wisconsin the Republicans are attacking the teachers’ union. They want to limit its right to bargain to wages alone. The police, firemen and State Patrol are exempted from the measure. Why the discrepancy?

Simple: most of the police, firemen and State Patrol are men, probably 80-90%. The teachers are women, about 75%. Go after them and their perceived weakness. Gender politics. Crush the women, in the name of cutting back.

Look closely at the words uttered by the Republican leaders in these states. If you understand anything about America and what it means (or used to mean) to be an American worker – one with rights acquired by tough sacrifices and hard work done by generations of American workers before you – then those words have to make you feel sad, and  should make you feel rage.   Ohio Republican Senate President Tom Niehaus, in a story filed by the Associated Press, is attributed with the idea that his state’s proposed legislation would allow governments more flexibility in dealing with their workers. (Italics mine).

No! In Democratic countries governments don’t deal with workers. They bargain with workers, across a level table. And the workers are not theirs. The workers are free citizens owned by nobody.

The states in the Midwest are looking more and more like the old regimes in the Mideast. People in the Middle East are throwing off their shackles while people in the Middle West have just elected their shacklers.

I fear for the workers in Wisconsin. Their rights are under attack. If I lived there, I’d  move to America, if I could find it.

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From a photo taken from Pizza Express window seat in Edinburgh, Scotland.


Here’s a great forgotten American writer: M. F. Beal, sometimes called Mary, often referred to as the once-wife of another forgotten writer, David Shetzline, who is also definitely worth reading but not nearly as good.

I took a writing class from her. It was a night class at Fresno State.  She would sit in a desk dressed in fatigues. She was calm, private. Smoked unfiltered cigarettes, lit them with wooden matches. Memory gives her the occasional camouflage look, but that may be due to the back cover photo on Amazon One. She always looked like she just came from a chat with Che Guevara.

Beal is mentioned by name on page 612 (at least in the Vintage paperback edition) of Thomas Pynchon’s novel, Gravity’s Rainbow, one of the truly great American classics of literature of the 20th Century. Bit bizarre, yes.

 She’s there because she and her husband knew Pynchon from Cornell University. They were close. They, plus Richard Farina and maybe others, formed the “Cornell school” of literature.

Before Twitter, authors “blurbed.” They wrote blurbs for each other’s books and dedicated them to each other. Pynchon wrote blurbs for both of David’s books, Heckletooth 3 and Deford, and he also wrote one for Beal’s unique book, Amazon One.

Sad to say, both David and Mary were two-book authors.

Who knows why, but it seems they sort of just stopped writing. I won’t speculate.

As for Beal, she wrote with a machete clenched between her teeth, ready to take on the entire corporate/military complex of this imperialistic country. She could see a lot of shit before anyone else even smelled it.

Amazon One is a terrific novel. Notice I didn’t use the word, great, as in great novel. It is a great novel, of course (and don’t you dare even think of differing until you not only read and study the novel, but thoroughly analyze and assimilate the Revolutionary undercurrent that pooled and eddied in the lives of many during the ‘60’s and early ‘70’s. Unless you have practically memorized books like Soul on Ice, The Strawberry Statement, Howl (precursor), the major feminist tracts of the time,  and know extensive passages from the Port Huron Statement, don’t even come sniffing), but its greatness lies almost completely outside what people think is “great” now.

Writers won’t even touch this stuff now.  Maybe it’s the namby pamby publishers. They’ve gone blind in this country. You can’t even utter the word “left,” any more. You gotta  use something like it’s virginal baby sister, “progressive,” or worse.

Radical or revolutionary? Not unless you’re having surgery or selling a car.

Beal was political. I’m not talking about moronic tea baggers and the pale progressives and name calling and Fox News whining. Think of what’s going on in the Middle East. That’s real politics, and that’s what she wrote about.

Amazon One is about Revolution. A  revolutionary (no not terrorist!) “cell”  in Berkeley accidentally detonates a bomb. The three men die, and the women of the “cell” go on the run – from the law and from themselves psychologically. To?  The novel takes place within a month. You know day by day, sometimes hour by hour what’s happening. It’s a harsh and brutally honest book.

The best writer in our class was Bill Fossett, and sadly I’m not sure of the spelling. He composed beautiful prose. His first story shamed what I was doing.  He had a story about a guy in Vietnam who’s on funeral duty and gets a call to report. While he’s dressing for the funeral General Eisenhower comes in to chat with him. Jesus!! At one point Ike asks the guy “What did this young man believe in, soldier?” “Nothing that kept him alive,” was the response. Sadder, I lost touch with Bill long time ago.

Anyway, Bill and I visited Beal and her husband once. They lived on a place in the foothills of Fresno. We drove up and spent an afternoon. Met David, their kids.  It was great. I enjoyed it. We sat outside on a patio. One time I went into the house to go to the bathroom. Guy in the living room watching TV and talking to one of the kids turns and says hi, sort of. Maybe just a nod. Which I returned.

Yeah, years later when I finally saw a photo of Pynchon . . . maybe.

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Post surgery continuation.

The pic above comes from a photo taken in Santa Monica, California. On the Third Street Promenade.

Here’s a still foggy rumination on the Monkey Numbers. This morning mine were 6,250, then a while later they were 14,300.

Ok, I thought, enough is enough. But in today’s world that doesn’t hold true. Enough is never enough anymore. The default human setting is More. So here’s some more on the Monkey Numbers.

First, I thought I’d do some testing, see how Nights of Naked Mannequins ranked against some global heavy weights.

Just for a sort of baseline reference point, I Googled Jesus Christ. Jesus was doing all right, so it seemed at first. He got 49,800,000 “results.” I reflected upon that. I couldn’t find any meaning in the numbers, you understand. They seemed sufficient, in a way, but who could tell? Well, the next test entry seemed obvious.

So I typed in the Beatles. If you know why that was the logical next entry, then I suspect you’re old enough to be allowed to read Nights of Naked Mannequins. If you have no clue what the hell I’m talking about, it’s a simple matter of youth. You’re not stupid, just young. You see, back at the peak of their popularity, John Lennon made the innocuous statement that the Beatles seemed more popular than Jesus. Where I was from, I believe he was probably right.

All Hell broke loose, of course. People had record smashing sessions and all that. Big brouhaha.

Well, turns out John was right. At least on Google the Beatles are more popular. My Google tallied 98,800,000 “results” for the Beatles. By the way, both tallies took .09 seconds according to something hidden deep within the digits of Google’s labyrinth. Look at those numbers. It appears that the Beatles are very nearly twice as popular as Jesus. And they broke up in 1969!

Lennon, I believe, has been technologically vindicated. He was merely stating a fact, apparently, although nobody knew it at the time. We couldn’t actually verify his assertion until this century.

I couldn’t resist after that. Something came over me. I went on a sort of Google spree. I Googled Madonna, and, quite frankly, was disappointed. She only rang up 85,700,000 “results.” My god, woman, quit fartin’ around! A real slacker, that’s what she’s become. Maybe it was the time allotted her. Her tally only took .08 seconds. This is sort of like bob sledding. She could have made up a lot of “results” in the corners if she had another .01 of a second.  OK.

But her pop offspring, Britney, outdid her! The girl came up with 97,800,000! No justice when the truth is told.

Here’s where it gets a little crazy. I can’t fathom those numbers. I just don’t understand what they refer to. Look, I went to the end of Madonna’s number online, page by page, click,click,click. You know what? I only got to actually see just over 1,000 “results.” At that point I came to a kind of border crossing, barbed wire everywhere. Google wouldn’t let me see any of the other 85,699,000 or so “results.” And there’s no arguing or debating the issue. I was held up at the border. Couldn’t even get a badge, nothing. I would love to be able to put in a request for Number 43,128,689 or whatever of the “results,” please. And then have it brought up to the front desk in .09 seconds. Bastards are just lazy.

I couldn’t resist these, of course: Satan does a credible 34,800,000. The old woman is hanging in there. (Let’s do away with sexism!).

This frightened me: Justin Bieber (isn’t he, like, only eight years old?) rattled out 201, 000,000! What the hell is Google going to do when he can vote?

My biggest numbers of the day and winner of today’s Monkey Number award come from, not surprisingly, Lady gaga, 375,000,000. But maybe she cheated. It took her .10 of a second, after all.

Huge disclaimer: If you, yourself, like, Google, those people, like, don’t expect to get, like, the exact same numbers, like, that I did, cuz, like, it all depends upon, like,  on how many monkeys are, like, working behind the border, like, at that exact time and, like, definitely, like, it varies . . .

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Soon . . . I will return and discover what I am.

A zoo story: today’s Monkey Numbers are 23,600!! Two weeks ago I posted 249 with hardly a Monkey among them. What’s  a body to do with all these Monkeys?

“Keep your thoughts positive, because your thoughts become your words.Keep your words positive, because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive, because your behavior become your habits. Keep your habits positive, because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive, because your values become your destiny.” – Mahatma Gandhi

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