Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday's Poetry: "In Flanders Fields"

by Pa Rock

"In Flanders Fields" was written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian physician who was serving in the battlefields of Belgium during World War I. He penned the memorial poem in his notebook on 3 May 1915 after witnessing the death of his friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, age 22, the day before. "In Flanders Fields" was published in the British magazine, Punch, in December of that same year. It has gone on to become one of the best known traditional poems to honor the dead of war.

Now, almost a century later, young people are still fighting and dying because of the folly and greed of their elders. When will we ever learn?

In Flanders Fields

by LTC John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Memorial Day Poetry Bonus:

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
by Pete Seeger

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Girls have picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young girls gone?
Taken husbands every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Covered with flowers every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

Indeed, when will we ever learn?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Turner Diaries

by Pa Rock
Reviewer of Racist Crap

I suspect that people write books for two reasons, to make money and to have an impact on others. William Luther Pierce,III, writing under the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald, was a physicist who was eventually consumed by his racist views and fondness for the Nazi Party. Pierce undoubtedly made money on The Turner Diaries, his wet dream of world-wide racial cleansing. (I understand that it sells well at gun shows and similar low-brow venues.) But this is a book whose primary goal was to have an impact, and if it made some money along the way, I'm sure that the author regarded that as just gravy.

The story is simple. It is built around the next American revolution, the one that that the survivalists, racists, and other assorted cretins have been eagerly awaiting for years. The premise is that the government had just passed a federal law, sponsored by a Jewish Congressman, that outlawed private ownership of guns. Federal agents had dutifully confiscated most firearms, but some patriots had managed to get theirs hidden before the government came knocking.

As the action begins there are small groups of patriotic "racists," many of whom are still armed, living in hiding across the United States. Their numbers are small, perhaps three hundred or so total. They have some contact with one another through radios and messengers. These small groups begin shoot-and-run attacks on the government with the occasional bomb tossed in for good measure. As their little successes mount up, more and more good white people rush to join them, and they ultimately overthrow the U.S. government and go on to rid the entire world of people of color. (Sorry for giving away the crazy ending!)

The story is told through journal entries of Earl Turner, one of the martyrs of the revolution. Turner's written observations allow us to see and hear the world through the senses of a mental defective. Mr. Turner has no qualms about shooting blacks (often referred to as "niggers") or Jews - and any white women who have "defiled their race" by sleeping with blacks or Jews. Killing them is a matter-of-fact occurrence that merits no more attention or significance than would be ascribed to the killing of flies, cockroaches, or the odd mouse.

William Pierce makes a passing reference to Adolf Hitler as "the great one" in the text of the book- just so his more dimwitted readers could grasp his philosophical base.

While reading this book I found myself thinking of Jack London's The Iron Heel, a fictional account of a socialist revolution sweeping across the United States in the early years of the twentieth century. The stories were framed in much the same way, and I suspect that London's work played a role in the way that Pierce chose to organize his tale. The similarities, of course, end with the structure of the stories - Jack London was a writer's writer, and William Pierce was little more than an angry typist.

However, literary quality aside, the impact that The Turner Diaries has had on the lunatic fringe of American society is nothing short of amazing. The FBI refers to the book as being the "racist bible" and credits it with being Timothy McVeigh's inspiration for blowing up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The underlying social current seems to be that there is a mass of "patriots" who are just biding their time waiting for some major event to draw the angry mobs into the streets. McVeigh didn't loose the masses (nor did Eric Rudolph or Scott Roeder), but that deters no one. These people know that they are right and eventually will prevail.

Sarah Palin says that Obama wants to take our guns away. The image of a black President trying to confiscate the guns of white, God-fearing, Christian Americans is a masturbation fantasy for every trailer park, gun show, and militia encampment in America!

William Pierce was a mighty prophet! Stroke, boys, stroke!

Paranoia is its own reward!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

2010 Dead Pool Update

by Pa Rock
Pool Master

We now have some leaders in this year's Dead Pool, and, as happened last year with the sudden death of Michael Jackson, multiple people have jumped into a tie for the lead again this year. The death of former child actor Gary Coleman has resulted in 58 points each going to Judy, Darby, and Nick.

The race is on!

Honoring Maricopa Deputies

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Occasionally I have used this forum to speak critically of Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. Thankfully, I have never had the occasion to meet Sheriff Joe in person, but he is a constant presence in the local news, so most of us desert rats feel a certain amount of acquaintance with the man and his self-promoted reputation as "the toughest sheriff in America."

My critical remarks regarding Sheriff Joe have not been related to his policing abilities. Indeed, I do not honestly know if the man even has any policing abilities. My observations have been focused on his political shenanigans and administrative shortcomings.

Today I was involved in a traffic accident (not my fault) which resulted in myself and the other motorist - a very nice fellow - spending a large chunk of the afternoon visiting with a total of three Maricopa County deputies. All of these young men were extremely professional, and, more importantly, very courteous. I could not have been more pleased with the way they handled the unpleasant incident. There was some question as to whether my car would be able to make it the mile or so to my home, and two of the deputies followed me to my house to insure that I got there safely.

I know that all of these young people in county uniforms must take a lot of guff regarding their boss (both pro and con), but none of Joe's personal or political drama should be allowed to take away from the good job his deputies do. These guys were johnny-on-the-spot and did the job well! They have my respect!

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Thirty-Eight-Year Itch

by Pa Rock
Globe Trotter

I flew out of Travis Air Force Base near San Francisco on Ground Hog's Day 1972 headed for a one-year military assignment on Okinawa. It was a long flight (especially for a country boy who had flown only a few times previously), followed by a brief stop in Hawaii, followed by an even longer flight. I have no idea how many hours the entire flight took, but it was early on the morning of February 4th when I finally set foot on America's most far-flung possession in the Pacific. (The flight did cross the International Date Line, so one day was effectively lost, not to be regained until I returned to the United States the following year.)

My time on the tiny island of Okinawa was full of learning and challenges and fun. The first military job that I had there was as a stevedore platoon leader at Naha Port where I supervised the loading and unloading of container ships. That was definitely a learning experience and a challenge, because up to that time I had never seen a container ship, much less had a clue as to how one operated. My other jobs while there included being a light truck platoon leader as well as a company executive officer.

Okinawa is a very small island at the southern end of the Ryukyu's. It is approximately eight miles wide and sixty miles long, and sits between the East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. President Nixon returned the island to Japanese control while I was there - on May 15, 1972.

Okinawa was its own island nation for centuries until it was taken over by Japan, only to be lost to the United States during World War II. It was the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting during that war. Many people on the island did not appreciate being "returned" to Japan, feeling instead that they should have been granted independence. Labor and independence protests by the local nationals were not uncommon while I was there.

Today Okinawa is the southernmost prefecture, or state, of Japan, and it is a popular quick getaway for tourists from Japan who come for the warmer weather and nice beaches.

The southern part of the island, from Sukiran south to the capital city of Naha, was very crowded. Traffic was a mess, and going places in the small taxis called skoshi cabs was the most common way of getting around. Skoshi (Japanese word meaning "small") cab drivers were aggressive and fearless. They would rip around long lines of stalled traffic (sometimes by driving on the sidewalks), and then smile and wave politely as they cut in the head of the line. People suffering road rage would not do well driving on the island of Okinawa.

The very southern tip of the island was called Suicide Cliff, a park of war monuments where supposedly hundreds of Japanese fighters chose to walk off of the high cliffs as the Americans advanced, rather than face the dishonor of surrender. We visited that area several times.

There were still many caves on the island in the early 1970's that had been dug as defensive structures during the war. We were constantly warned to stay out of them because many were still booby-trapped.

Northern Okinawa was agricultural at the time I was there. One weekend I drove north with friends and wound up in the middle of a pineapple plantation. We visited with a mama-san who was harvesting pineapples, and she gave us two just to get us on the road and out of her way. I understand that the Japanese have built many expensive hotels and resorts along the northern shore since the time that I was there. Supposedly, there are now roads that encircle the island.

One of our favorite places to eat was a fancy restaurant called Sam's Anchor Inn. It was a colorful eatery with a jungle motif and parrots that screamed and whistled while the customers dined on superb Kobe beef that was prepared at the individual grills on each table. The food was to-die-for!

I was married to my college girlfriend while on Okinawa, and our oldest son, Nick, was born there at Camp Kue Army Hospital. (I understand that hospital has since closed, and a new medical facility has been built on the island that is one of the best in the Pacific.)

We sat through one major typhoon while I was stationed on Okinawa - a massive hurricane whose eye went right up the center of the island. Most of the buildings are block and cement, so the storms are relatively safe if people have the intelligence to hunker down and stay put until they pass. I also remember one minor earthquake that rocked our house. It wasn't much, but it was very disconcerting, especially to a young fellow from Missouri, to feel the earth shifting beneath his feet!

Another unique phenomenon of the island is the presence, ubiquity actually, of small geckos (lizards) that dwell in abundance in most houses. They run around on the walls and ceilings, and have a tendency to fall down onto the dinner table or bed when one least expects a drop-in guest. These creatures make a loud sound that resembles a bark, and they are definitely not as personable or appealing as the Geico gecko! They are prized as house guests, however, because they eat the local insects.

I am headed back to Okinawa this July to do the same work there for the military that I have been doing at various stateside bases for the past five-and-a-half years. My tour will be a minimum of two years. I never thought that I would get the chance to return, but I am looking forward to reliving some memories and seeing how things have changed in the past thirty-eight years. The people I know who have lived there since I left, and some who are currently there, all have good things to say about their experiences and adventures on the island.

I am also looking forward to being able to show Nick, and his son Boone, where Nick was born and where he first lived. I plan on having my other children and their families visit while I am there as well, and my sis, Gail, has said that she will fly in for a visit also.

My next supervisor asked me over the phone if I had any questions of him. "Just one, sir," I said. "Is Sam's Anchor Inn still there?"

"Yes it is," he assured me, "and it's wonderful!"

Crank up the parrots - I'm on my way!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It Just Keeps on Pumping

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

The Gulf of Mexico is dying, or, more accurately, being put to death right before our disbelieving eyes. We are witnessing the worst environmental catastrophe to ever beset our nation. Philippe Cousteau, grandson of the late, great environmentalist and marine biologist, Jacques Cousteau, has been on a recent dive in the Gulf of Mexico and described what he saw beneath the surface of the Gulf as an "absolute nightmare."

An absolute nightmare!

It isn't a "leak." It isn't a "spill." It's a damned gusher that is pumping thousands of gallons of poisonous oil into into the sea every day and every night - nonstop! BP, one of the three evil multi-national corporations that own this mess, has been fiddling at solving the problem for over a month, and seems to be more concerned with maintaining corporate secrecy and control than actually jumping into the muck and getting this thing under control.

Democratic commentator James Carville, a Louisiana native, has vented his spleen on BP saying that some of its people need to be paraded around in shackles on their way to jail. Carville has also taken potshots at President Obama, describing his response to the crisis as "lackadaisical." Today the President barked back at Carville as he assured the nation that all of the might of government is actively involved in ending this crisis - and that BP is answering to the Feds as they pursue a remedy.

Bring in the scientists, bring in the Marines, bring in the Navy Seals! If today's mud pack strategy doesn't work, BP needs to be shoved aside and the full might of our government and the world's resources must be brought to bear on the situation. And when the gusher is finally capped, all of the big oil companies should to be brought to the Gulf of Mexico for a clean-up party before any more drilling is permitted in any U.S. waters.

Radio loudmouth Rush Limbaugh is amusing himself by referring to the continuing catastrophe as "Obama's Katrina," and James Carville says that it could be the event that brings down the Obama Presidency. Unfortunately for Mr. Obama as well as the rest of us, they might be right.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Republican Civil Rights

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

It's always fun to watch reactionary groups self-destruct. The Republican Party and their bastard issue, the teabagger movement, has gone to great effort to paint themselves as "real Americans," as opposed to unpatriotic, humanistic, Kenyan-loving members of the other major political party. They want us all to know that they are the normal ones, they represent all that is right with America.

But there are far too many snakes in that philosophical basket to allow for safe handling.

America, for the most part, accepted the concept of Civil Rights for minority groups in the 1960's, and even though rabid conservatives may have not liked the idea, they basically kept their mouths shut, realizing that if they wanted to win elections, their candidates needed to appeal across racial and ethnic lines.

Arizonans, of course, didn't get the memo, or if they did, they didn't read it - or didn't understand it - or didn't care. They told the nation to "shove it" by rescinding the state's observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday twenty-some years ago, only to be brought to heel later by the political reality of an economic boycott that cost the state, among other things, a Super Bowl. Now, of course, these sun-shriveled macaroons are at it again with the passage of their anti-brown legislation (SB 1070). The economic boycott is on again, and the local goobers are outraged that people dare to be critical of the state's political posturing.

By and large, the Arizona travesty is the product of a Republican legislature and a Republican governor. It will bite them in the butt eventually, and all of the noise over this racist bill will drive Hispanics into the Democratic Party - thank you very much!

Now Republicans are offending two other minority groups. It looks as though a repeal of the hideous, anti-gay military policy of "Don't Ask - Don't Tell" is set to go into effect through an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill - the mechanism that funds our military and our wars. Republican Senators are poised to filibuster the entire bill in order to maintain discrimination against our brave (extra-brave!) gay military warriors. Really! Republicans, who have a long, proud history of throwing money at the military with few requests for accountability of any kind, are now prepared to stop military spending cold unless they are guaranteed the ability to continue discrimination against gay service members.

John McCain has gone slobberingly apocalyptic in his demand to maintain discrimination against gays in the military. His wife and daughter are infinitely smarter than the crabby old senator - both support gay rights. (Of course, my cat is also smarter than John McCain, but he is being coy regarding his position on gay rights!)

And then there is Rand Paul, the teabagger/Libertarian/Republican senate nominee from Kentucky. Paul, who proves conclusively that the nut does not fall far from the tree, went on a speaking binge last week in which he embarrassed himself and the national Republican party by saying what he truly believed - that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is deeply flawed, and businesses should have the right to discriminate based on race.

Dr. Paul, is that where America should be headed - back to the good old days when everybody "knew" their place? Should we allow school districts to separate their children by race if that's the local sentiment? If a state wants to bring back poll taxes or literacy tests, should the federal government have some inherent right to interfere? Should we bring back lynchings too? Is the compunction to hang your black or brown neighbor by the neck from a tree limb or lamp post an individual liberty that should be none of the government's business?

One more question, Dr. Paul...does your wife have trouble keeping up with the family bedsheets?

Maybe the Republicans are onto something that will pay them dividends at the polls, but color me skeptical. Their base is getting baser and baser - and smaller and smaller. While these political geniuses are busy purifying their party, the people that they are driving off will still vote - they just won't vote Republican.

You betcha, they won't!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Few More Observations from the Road

by Pa Rock
Road Warrior

I made it safely back to Arizona early this afternoon and have been busy unpacking and getting things back in order.

Last night in Gallup was fairly uneventful, but I did go for a walk and had supper at a small bakery/cafe. My room at the Colonial Motel, mentioned briefly in yesterday's post, proved to be even more interesting as the night wore on. I learned that the refrigerator didn't work, and the room was so cramped that I hit my head on the television cabinet when I got up in the middle of the night - before even getting out of bed! Today I have a noticeable gash on my forehead.

Here are a few more observations from this rushed road trip back to the Ozarks. Gas was around $2.60 a gallon in Missouri and rose steadily heading west, with the price topping out in Arizona at $2.90. There are more recreational vehicles on the road than there have been in the past couple of years, as well as considerably more commercial trucks. People must be getting accustomed to paying close to three dollars a gallon for gasoline.

I remarked in this space a couple of weeks ago that Arizona has now started selling Mega Millions lottery tickets in addition to Powerball as a way of generating more revenue and placing more of the tax burden on the poor. It turns out that each of the six states that I was in the past week (Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri) are using both of these multi-state lotteries. In a related observation, I passed casinos in several of those states.

Tomorrow I head back to work. My focus now shifts to getting ready for the big move to Okinawa. So much to get done, and so little time to do it!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Old Gallup

by Pa Rock
Road Pounder

Tonight I am in the older section of Gallup, New Mexico, staying on what is known as "historic Route 66." The motel that I have chosen, the Colonial, is right out of the 1950's. My room is very small without a table for my computer. It does have a microwave, a small refrigerator and a television equipped with HBO. Unfortunately, the $37 rate did not merit a remote control for the television! There is also no chair to sit on while watching TV, but that problem can be remedied by sitting on the edge of the bed - with my face approximately two feet from the set!

I tried to shave a couple of bucks off of the nightly rate by telling the desk clerk that I am a member of AARP. (It ought to be good for something besides overpriced group insurance!) She replied that they don't give an AARP discount. When I noted that the sign on the street said that they do, she told me that was the policy of the former owners. Maybe they should rename this place the "Bait and Switch!"

Early tomorrow afternoon I should be back in Litchfield Park. I just hope that I can get there without the aid of another tow truck!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Inhofe Factor

by Pa Rock
Road Warrior

For the longest time I have wondered how mental midgets like Jeff Sessions, Jim DeMint, and James Inhofe manage to impress enough people to get elected to the United States Senate. The jury may still out on Sessions and DeMint (although I have my own ideas), but after the day I've had in Oklahoma I know exactly what dynamic sends Inhofe to Washington: his constituency, or at least a majority of it, is dumber than he is!

Consider the evidence:

Tornado Alley runs roughly from Texas, northwesterly through Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and on into southwest Missouri. Tornadoes happen along Interstate 40 and the Will Rogers Turnpike - they happen! So why do so many people residing along Tornado Alley live in mobile homes and trailer parks? I credit that abysmal judgement to the Inhofe effect - just as the senator believes that global warming is a myth, his constituents think that the tornadoes will never rip their world apart.

Magical thinking, anyone?

Ihhofe has been stripping his gears this past week trying to make sure that liability limits aren't raised on his masters - the big oil companies. Just because BP is well on its way to killing off the entire Gulf of Mexico doesn't mean they should have to pay to clean it up, does it?

Oklahoma logic?

Today I had a blowout on the Interstate thirty miles east of Okalhoma City. My son, Tim, managed to arrange a Sunday tow (via cell phone and the Internet from Kansas City) to the Pep Boys in Edmond, Oklahoma. I arrived at Pep Boys at around two p.m., and the nice young man who waited on me assured me that he would have two new tires on the truck in thirty minutes. and it would be ready to roll on toward Amarillo.

I stepped next door for lunch (chicken livers and mashed potatoes), and came back thirty minutes later to find the pickup jacked up with the shredded tire still on it. About that time the guy who had been waiting on me told a coworker that he was going home for "awhile." They both smiled. When he returned from his afternooner an hour later, my truck was still up on the jack. Not too long after that the ruined tire was taken off. That was progress.

Each time I stepped out of the office to check and see if there was any more progress, I was told that it was "almost" finished - when obviously nothing was happening. I finally managed to get back on the road just before the place closed at six p.m. (They must have gotten tired of working other people in ahead of me!)

The peppy boys sent me off with a set of bad directions back to the Interstate. I eventually gave up and asked a highway patrolman who was sitting in a hospital lounge watching television. He coughed up more bad directions. Feeling like I was in a never-ending episode of The Twilight Zone, I drove around aimlessly for twenty more minutes until a couple of Hispanic lads at a convenience store gave me the straight scoop on how to get the hell out of Oklahoma, a skill they probably learned through necessity!

Tonight I am in Elk City. I should hit the Texas state line in time for breakfast tomorrow.

Oklahoma ain't OK, but, even so, it deserves better than James Mountain Inhofe!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sale Day

by Pa Rock
Dispenser of Treasure

I used to tell my Dad that if he didn't start getting rid of some of his crap, that Gail and I would wind up dragging it all out in the yard and selling it someday. His response was always, "That's my stuff. You don't get rid of your stuff!" Well, today we had an auction and his stuff flew off with the four winds. It was a small crowd, and many people took home bargains.

It was an emotional day, at least for me, seeing things that my parents had for decades going out the door for pennies on the dollar. But it all had to go. Gail's kids and mine had been through the house taking what they wanted, and the rest is now somebody else's problem.

Three of my old high school classmates stopped by to visit during the auction. It was fun talking to Mary Riley Olsen, Mr. and Mrs. Dan Abraham, and Dr. Anna Harmon. They all looked much older than me!

The saddest part of today was seeing my sons and grandson leave. As the people on my email list know, it looks as though I will be moving to Okinawa in July, so it could be some time before I see them again. I hope that all of my kids will come visit while I am there. The tickets are on Pa Rock! Nick, my oldest, was actually born on Okinawa nearly 37 years ago. This will be my first trip back since he was two months old!

Mollie Carroll and I had dinner at Cotton-Eyed Joe's in Noel with her brother (and my old college roommate) James Carroll and his wife, Patti. That was a nice evening. James has recently written a novel, Sarren, which I am anxious to read.

My sister, Gail, was at the auction all day and worked hard to keep things running smoothly. Her daughter and granddaughter, Tiffany and Brieanna, were also here, and so was Gail's oldest son, Justin. It was nice to have so much family close-at-hand.

Tomorrow I will hop in the old red pickup and point it back toward Phoenix. There is much to get done in Arizona before my move overseas.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Grave Tending

by Pa Rock
Dutiful Son

It's is a beautiful day in the Ozarks, the first day adorned with blue skies and singing birds since I have been back. There has been a great deal of rain here this year, and all of the plants and foliage have that deep green and shaggy appearance. For someone who has seen little but Arizona brown for so long, the Ozarks' greenery is certainly a welcome vision.

I have stayed busy cleaning out dad's personal papers, and also tackled one closet that was full (and I mean FULL) of cleaning products, personal hygiene items, and assorted doo-hickies whose function was known only to him. Dad grew up in the Great Depression and he just could not bring himself to throw anything away - ever!

Yesterday I became a stock investor by making my first purchases. I am now a part owner (a very small part!) in CSX and Walgreen's. Driving back to Missouri earlier this week I saw many CSX containers moving along the rails, and Phoenix has a new Walgreen's literally on every other corner. But now that I've invested, watch them both go belly-up!

My most challenging task today - emotionally challenging - was doing some work on Dad's grave. My nephew, Justin Smith, one of the best people in the world, made a special trip to Noel to spread dirt on the grave as it began to settle in. He had it looking very nice. Memorial Day is next weekend, and the top of the grave was still barren. I covered the spot with several bags of rich top soil and sowed it with grass seeds. Hopefully by next week it will have begun to show some hints of green.

One of my special memories of my father, Garland Macy, is that he worked so very hard to make my mother's grave presentable after she died in 1986. I hope that he knows that we are looking after his resting place.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bagging Memories

by Pa Rock
Stirrer of Dust

This was sort of a melancholy day. I went through all of my dad's files trying to determine what was safe to throw away and what would need to be burned. Also opened boxes and looked through things before the auctioneer and his team descend on the old homestead this weekend. Lots of memories, many in ill-repair and all covered with a thick coating of dust. But there are times in life when you have to let things go - and this is one of those times.

One thing, however, that should always be maintained and cherished is friendship. My close friend, Mollie Carroll, came by the house this evening and spent several hours delighting me with recollections of growing up in Noel. Mollie taught school for many years in New York City and was a member of the theatre scene there - and she is one of the most interesting people that I know. Tonight I gave her lessons on how to use "the google."

Juan and Alma Garza stopped by to help get some things ready for the sale. They, too, are wonderful people and good friends. They were always exceedingly kind to my dad.

Tomorrow my sons will arrive in town and the work will start getting serious. It will be good to have them here for moral support.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Haitians Finally Free of Silsby

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Laura Silsby, the zealot leader of a group of misguided individuals who tried to "rescue" a bus load of Haitian "orphans", was freed earlier this week by the Haitian government and has reportedly flown home to Boise. Ms. Silsby, who has run afoul of the law in this country as well as in Haiti, spent 15 weeks in a Haitian prison while the local judiciary tried to figure out what to do with her. In the end they slapped a nebulous charge of "irregular travel" on her, found her guilty, and sentenced her to "time served."

The phrase "ugly American" used to be bandied about somewhat more regularly than it is today. There was a time when we as a country seemed to ooze moral superiority over the rest of the world, and seemed to regard those living in foreign lands as children in need of our love and guidance.

Unfortunately, there are still a few, like Ms. Silsby, who can't seem to shake that mantle of superiority, or righteousness, and believe that they have all the answers, or, worse yet, that God acts through them and therefore they are morally right, even if the laws don't comport to their actions.

Those kids in Haiti weren't orphans, and Ms. Silsby didn't have any government authority to try to move them out of the country. She was essentially running a snatch-and-grab. She hoodwinked their parents into giving them up, and she bamboozled her cohorts into believing that they were acting under the color of law.

Laura Silsby was caught in her nefarious act and thankfully the children were returned to their parents. She spent fifteen weeks in a Haitian prison. The Haitians, who have been struggling under the worst of conditions since the devastating earthquake of last winter, could ill-afford to waste time dealing with her, or waste resources housing and feeding her. But they did.

Ms. Silsby returned to Boise as some sort of conquering heroine. She is undoubtedly happy, her friends and family are happy, and Haiti can scratch one more mess off of its to-do list. Hopefully Ms. Silsby will now be able to find contentment and fulfillment in Idaho getting her own house in order - and leave international relations to the U.S. State Department.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Homecoming, Pa Rock Style

by Pa Rock
Missouri Jackass

The eagle has landed and dropped his truckload of crap in Kansas City. The drive today wasn't too bad until I got within about twenty miles of my destination. That, of course, is where my pick-up decided that it had gone about as far as it could go (with apologies to Rogers and Hammerstein!). I sat along side of Interstate 70 just a mile or so short of the toll plaza for an hour or more while youngest son, Tim, arranged for a tow truck and mechanic who could fix me up pronto.

I diagnosed the problem myself. The alternator had given out. I am getting ready to give this truck to my daughter and son-in-law, and I am glad that it chose to give me trouble instead of waiting and breaking down some day when Molly was in it alone with her little boys. So far Molly, it has new belts, new shocks, two new tires, and a quality rebuilt alternator!

So there I sat on the side of the Interstate where I chanced to meet a very courteous and pleasant Kansas State highway Patrolman. A Kansas road worker on mower also came along while I was there, but he took a break until the tow truck showed up and got me out of his way. The guy didn't seem to be too put out with the delay.

(Old joke: What's yellow and sleeps six? A highway department truck!)

Having sat alone along the side of the road for a hour or so, I was in the mood to visit with my rescuer, but the tow truck driver proved to be the strong, silent type. All that I learned in our ten mile trip to the garage was that he was from Basore, Kansas, had lived there eleven years, and hauled five to fifteen vehicles a day.

One thing I did discover was that if you exit the turnpike with your vehicle on the back of a tow truck, the toll collector may forget to charge for the vehicle being towed! Wichita to Bonner Springs was free, free I tell you!

The garage that Tim found for me was Grady's, a small, nondescript family business in rural Kansas City, KS - on Kansas Avenue. They were pleasant, quick, and reasonable. I can't recommend Grady's Garage highly enough! (913-334-3061)

Tonight we will do some running around the Kansas City area, and tomorrow it is on to Noel!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Glen Campbell Tour

by Pa Rock
Road Master

I began yesterday in Phoenix, and tonight I am holed up in Wichita. I guess its a blessing that Glen Campbell never sang about Butte, Biloxi, or Boston or I would really be wracking up the miles!

Most of today was spent driving across the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles and north through Kansas - all along scenic Highway 54 East. Gas was $2.70 the entire way until I reached Wichita, and then it dropped an amazing four cents per gallon.

A sign of the times: There are more energy windmills than oil wells along Highway 54 East between Tucumcari and Wichita.

Northern Texas has some massive cattle lots whose aroma wafts across multiple state lines, and every little berg in southern Kansas has huge cement grain elevators at the southwest edge of town - for easy access to the rail lines.

Early tomorrow I will be goin' to Kansas City where I will see if everything really is up to date.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Winslow Blues

by Pa Rock
Road Warrior

It happened this morning.

I was standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, and I was such a fine sight to see. I had just stepped out of Senor Jose's Muy Grande Casa de Imports and Trading Post and was decked out in souvenirs for my trip "back east."

Atop my cabeza sat one of those elegant tourist sombreros with the little yarn balls dangling around the rim. It was all of three feet wide, and a couple of mongrel dogs had sidled up next to me to take advantage of the shade. I was also wearing a brightly striped woolen serape that was big enough to live in. The look was topped off with a stuffed armadillo under one arm and a bottle of Jose Cuervo under the other.

I was just about to step off the curb and cross the street when an old broad, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowed down to take a look at me. The driver, a bottle blonde with a face that looked like a bad patch of the Sonoran Desert, started waving me over.

"Hey, Taco!" She yelled a voice that was raspy enough to shake the needles off of a saguaro, "Get your brown buns over here!"

"Si, Senora," I said in my best tourist Spanish as I stepped up to the woman in the truck.

"Stuff the monkey talk. This here's America and we speak American!"

"Yes, ma'am," I said, appropriately chastened.

"Ive got a job for you. Hope on the back."

"A job? What kind of job?" It never hurts to inquire.

"Running a mop down at the visitor's center. You people understand mops, don't ya?"

"But all of the visitor's centers are closed because the state is broke."

"Naw" she laughed. "We ain't broke. That was just a ruse to get rid of them overpaid union thugs! We opened all of the centers back up this morning."

"Er, uh, how much does it pay?"

"Two hundred bucks a week - not too shabby for eighty hours! Now get on!"

"Sorry, senora,'am, but I'll have to pass."

"Pass! Pass! Why you ungrateful..." And with that she picked up her cell phone and hit one number. "Put Sheriff Joe on the line. I've got an uppity beaner here in Winslow that needs a one-way ride to the border! I don't care if its not his county - and Joe won't care either!"

And with that, Blondie shot me a look that would burn bacon as she hit the accelerator and fish-tailed out into traffic. I guess she thought that the cops wouldn't mess with !an official state vehicle!

And I went in search of my burro. It was time to get the hell out of Winslow!

No Milking Animals

by Pa Rock
Weary Traveler

I have covered quite a bit of the American southwest today, leaving Litchfield Park, AZ, at 5:30 a.m. and dropping anchor at Santa Rosa, NM,at 6:00 p.m. - local time. The trip, all 610 miles of it ran north, from Phoenix to Flagstaff along Highway 17, coming within eight miles of the west's most beautiful city, Sedona. The giant saguaro cactus that populate the desert around Phoenix like watchful sentries, are in bloom and were wondrous to behold.

At Flagstaff I took a right turn onto Interstate 40 and have followed it the rest of the day. Interstate 40 parallels the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad and the historic Route 66. It slices through one scenic vista after another. It is also punctuated with numerous "genuine" Native American market places, each and everyone guaranteed not to rely on "phony" discounts!

Some interesting signage appeared along the way. I pulled in behind the Dairy Queen in Holbrook, AZ, to readjust the load in the back of the pick-up. There I discovered an unusually large parking lot (large for a Dairy Queen) along with a big sign that read simply, "No Milking Animals" along with a drawing of a goat! Pulling in behind the Dairy Queen and quickly milking a goat or two must qualify for fun times in Holbrook!

But if goats aren't your thing, and horses are - there's a sign along the interstate near Thoreau, NM, advertising "RV and Horse Motel!" I wonder if our genius governor, Jan Brewer, has thought about encouraging the development of the Horse Motel business?

I had a late lunch at the Dancing Eagle Casino forty miles west of Albuquerque. I knew that the food would be great because I have eaten there before. What I had forgotten about the Dancing Eagle was the strong Native American influence - something that is very appropriate since its trademark in an Indian fancy dancer. Many of the casino employees - and all of the restaurant workers - were Native Americans, so it must be a boon to the local economy in that respect. Unfortunately, almost all of the customers at the slot machines were also Native Americans. As soon as I stepped through the door I felt that I was at a tribal convention.

Has gambling become this century's replacement plague for the firewater that decimated the health and pride of the Indian Nations over the past dozen generations?

Why must we continue to fund government on the backs of the poor?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Missouri or Bust!

by Pa Rock
Road Warrior

I have the truck loaded and am heading out toward Missouri early in the morning. Hopefully I will have the city lights of Phoenix fading in my rear view mirror before the sun comes up. My goal is to make it to Kansas City by Tuesday.

We are having my Dad's estate sale in Noel next Saturday. If you are in the Ozarks, please stop by and haul off some of our family treasure.

It was ninety-eight degrees here today - so it is a great time to leave Arizona for a few days! I am so not ready for summer!

See you at the auction!

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Mystification of Jan Brewer

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Our clueless governor, Jan Brewer, said that she is "mystified" at all of the controversy that has arisen over Arizona's new "papers please" law. She is particularly twisted over the economic boycott that is turning out to be surprisingly effective. She moans that she would never take part in anything (like the boycott) that would intentionally hurt innocent people.

No, Jan, you obviously hold innocent people in high esteem. Our brown neighbors who were brought to Arizona as small children are certainly as evil as their parents who walked across the insanely hot Sonoran Desert so that they could clean our toilets and trim our trees. Some of these kids are now employed Arizona taxpayers who are one traffic stop away from being deported to a country that is as foreign to them as it is to us. They may have just been babies when they deliberately let their parents spirit them into our country - but their still illegal!

And what about those Hispanic high school kids in Tucson who thought they had some right to study their ethnicity instead of America's standard white heritage? Some of them failed to bow down to a Republican hack who dropped in to lecture them. Who the hell do those kids think they are! Why, they are definitely not innocent - like you and Tom Horne!

None of those brown people are innocent, are they Jan? You are such a saint!

You are a mystified saint.

You are also one slick politician, or at least you thought you were until this damned boycott thing took hold. How dare all of those groups play politics with the Arizona economy, especially during hard times! It's downright un-American!

What's a tough love guv to do?

Arizona has no money - zilch, zip, nada - and the state is trying to raise money through a "temporary" sales tax (those things are never temporary!) that is doomed to fail. So Jan the genius thinks the best way to combat the insidious boycott is to form a committee to study the matter and figure out ways to get the word out about how great Arizona and Arizona laws really are. She is going to pay state funds (what funds?) to some company whose job will be to "re-brand" Arizona and launch a massive public relations campaign to re-explain our state to the nation.

So the Arizona answer will be to take a bad situation and try to correct it with money we don't have. If this state gets any crazier the Hispanics may leave of their own accord - and then who would clean our toilets and trim our trees - or pay the sales taxes that keep this state afloat?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Better Late Than Never, Laura

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

It should surprise very few of us that the wives of Republican politicians are generally smarter than their husbands - the bar, after all, isn't that high. However, the wives usually have the good grace to keep their radical ideas to themselves, at least until their husbands leave office. Betty Ford might be the exception to that rule. She was so tacky as to celebrate the Roe v. Wade decision while still residing in the White House. Others waited until their husbands left office before showing the world that they were actually much more intelligent than their mates.

Nancy Reagan became an active supporter of stem cell research after leaving the White House. Granted, that advocacy came about as a result of Ronnie's tragic Alzheimer's - but, nevertheless, it was a significant shift away from the rigid Republican/fundamentalist Christian position on the issue. Barbara Bush revealed after leaving the White House that she actually was a supporter of abortion rights - egad! Then, when her son was running for President, she actively tried to protect Laura from even having to address that issue.

Well, Laura Bush made it to the White House without having to be honest about her views on abortion rights, and she managed to keep her mouth shut for eight long years while her idiot husband tried to learn how to say "nuclear" and speak English. But now she is a civilian again - and now she is talking.

Laura Bush has told America's nosy neighbor, Larry King, that she and Little George disagreed on abortion and on gay rights. Yup, the dignified Laura Bush was secretly a baby-killing, homo-loving, liberal! Laura told King that gay marriage will eventually come about because it is a generational thing, and young people are more open to alternative lifestyles.

And Mrs. Bush is right. National polling shows that the nation's oldest citizens, the ones closest to moving into the cemeteries, are the most strongly opposed to gay marriage, and the younger people are, the more apt they are to support the concept. In a few years the notion of two women or two men marrying will be no more controversial than the once radical idea of women voting is today.

The world is changing, and the mean-spirited among us may slow the change process, but they cannot stop it!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Jan Brewer Keeps on Digging!

by Pa Rock
Arizona Voter

Today the city council of Los Angeles, the City of Angels, lived up to its name by voting to support the economic boycott of Arizona, a move that will cost this racist sand trap millions of dollars. Everyday, if fact, the list of places boycotting Arizona grows, and planned events are cancelled at local hotels and other venues. The economic boycott of Arizona isn't just working, it's raging!

Also today the Republican National Committee surprised no one by announcing that their 2012 national convention would be held in Tampa, Florida. Phoenix had been on the short list, but Republicans didn't really want to become any more closely tied to our state's overt bigotry than they already are.

So, in the event no one else steps up to say "thank you" to the national Republican Party for supporting the economic boycott of Arizona, know that Pa Rock and thousands of other good Arizonans appreciate your participation in this most just cause!

Our governor, Jan Brewer, is perplexed. She can't fathom why people would be angry with her and her state over a little thing like racial profiling. Jan sputters that signing SB 1070 made Arizona a "safer" place. Yes, Jan, it might be a little safer for white Republicans whose real intent is, and has been for years, to keep Hispanics from voting or being an active participant in democracy.

But it is definitely not a safer place for anyone of color. Now our brown friends and neighbors must worry more about over-zealous police misusing their substantial powers. Now they must worry more about armed and angry goobers who have guns but didn't have to pass any type of training or get a permit. Now they must worry more than ever about basic survival in an atmosphere of distrust and hatred that has been fostered by their own state government.

Today our clueless governor signed another race-based bill. Our state superintendent of education, a Republican politician by the name of Tom Horne, has been on a rampage against an ethnic studies class that is offered to all students in Tucson. Apparently Mr. Horne got tweaked when he heard that legendary activist Delores Huerta told the Tucson's ethnic studies class that Republicans hate Latinos. Color me shocked! Where on earth would Delores get an idea like that?

Now, with the governor's signature, ethnic studies will no longer be available to students in Arizona. If minority students need role models, let them focus of Jan Brewer, Tom Horne, Russell Pearce, Joe Arpaio, John McCain, J.D. Hayworth, and J.T. Ready. They were good enough for Bubba and his cousins, so they ought to be good enough for them Mexican kids, too!

Jan Brewer is running for governor of Arizona. Mis amigos, remember that! Tom Horne is running for state attorney general. Mis amigos, remember that! Register! Vote! Haul your neighbors to the polls so that they too can vote!

Jan, you're in a hole. A smart person would stop digging!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Vandals Out-Flank Supreme Court

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

A six-foot metal cross that until this past weekend sat atop a rock in the Mojave National Preserve has been in the news recently. The American Civil Liberties Union and other interested parties had gone to court alleging that it violated the Constitutional separation of church and state. Veterans groups and a right-wing organization out of Texas called the Liberty Institute defended the presence of the cross on public lands, stating that it had sat on its lonely rock in the desert for several decades and had been put up not as a religious symbol, but to honor veterans. (Never mind that religious services had been held around the cross.)

Congress tried to side-step the Constitution by giving the land on which the monument sat to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, but a federal appeals court wasn't buying that subterfuge and rejected the Congressional land transfer. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court where, two weeks ago, the Court's activist, conservative majority said basically that putting religious symbols on government property does not constitute a violation of the important constitutional wall between church and state.

The Supreme Court sent the decision back to the Federal Court of Appeals and told them to rethink their decision in light of the Supreme Court's new logic on the porousness of the wall between Church and State.

The Gods had spoken. Their word is law. Fiat accompli!

Or was it?

This past Sunday night a vandal or vandals unknown drove out into the Mojave, climbed atop Sunrise Rock, and removed the large metal cross. Maybe the esteemed justices should have posted a guard!

That, of course, puts me in mind of Chief Justice John Marshall and his Supreme Court who ruled in the 1830's that the Indian tribes east of the Mississippi River were Sovereign Nations, and, as such, President Andrew Jackson could not cause them to be removed to the barren wastes of Oklahoma. Andy Jackson reportedly said after hearing that decision, "John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!" The result was, of course, that the Five Civilized Tribes began their long march to Oklahoma (and Missouri and Arkansas) in what history would eventually label "the trail of tears." The Court could talk and vote until kingdom come, but Andy had the troops.

I didn't agree with the Supreme Court's decision regarding the Mojave cross, but the correct way to resolve the matter is to work to change the Court - not to steal the cross. We are a nation of laws, even if Andy Jackson and a couple of California vandals failed to realize it.

That said, there is something downright heartwarming about seeing the Liberty Institute go apocalyptic!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tea-baggers on the Rampage

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

The tea-baggers have yet to show that they can win an election (although they may feel that their support was key to Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts - it wasn't), but they are very skilled at gaming the system.

This past weekend they swamped a state Republican convention in Utah and managed to keep three-term Republican Senator Bob Bennett off of the primary ballot. Three thousand people chose the two candidates who will fight it out for the Republican nomination. It's a system, not democracy, and the tea-baggers gamed it! Bennett says he hasn't ruled out a write-in campaign as an independent, a move that would muck things up nicely for those rowdy gaggers!

It was the tea-baggers who mixed it up in New York's 23rd congressional district and wound up costing the Republican Party a congressional seat that they had held since the Civil War. The tea-baggers didn't think the Republican candidate was pure enough, and they wound up supporting an independent - and the Democrat won - thank you very much! And then those political geniuses rushed to Florida to support a right-wing ideologue against Governor Crist in the Republican senate primary. So Crist backed out as a Republican and reorganized as an independent - and he will win a three-way race and probably caucus with the Democrats, again - thank you very much!

(Okay, it is possible that I could be wrong about Florida. The Democrat, Kendrick Meek, could win. Wouldn't that be delicious - tea-baggers being responsible for sending a black man to the Senate!)

Today the once proud state of Maine fell victim to these noisy fools. Maine is a land of somewhat sensible people including moderate Republican senators Olympia Snowe and and Susan Collins. But tea-baggers can't stomach moderates, and today those raging knuckleheads managed to take over the Maine Republican Convention and throw out the party's proposed platform. And what did they replace it with?

The new platform of the Maine Republican Party promotes the elimination of the Department of Education and the Federal Reserve. (I guess if we jettison the Federal Reserve, Goldman Sachs might send over a couple of trainees to help manage the nation's monetary system!) Maine's tea-baggers included a provision in the new platform to investigate "the collusion between government and industry in the global warming myth." Seriously! (These people must consider James Inhofe to be an intellectual!)

Other tidbits from this right-wing screed include a declaration that "freedom of religion" does not mean "freedom from religion," and an insistence that health care is not a right. The document also calls for the abrogation of the "Law of the Sea Treaty" and the "UN Treaty on the Rights of the Child."

These people are flaming idiots! They are loud and stupid and know how to make headlines through political stunts. But if Republicans want to be successful in November, they are going to have to figure out a way to get these snakes back in the bag!

(Tonight Keith Olbermann posited that the Democratic party may be secretly funding the tea-baggers!)

Republican party purity is democratic party security!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Environment Trumps Everything

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Being a resident of Arizona, I would like to feel that there is no more important issue facing humanity than the racism my state is pumping into the national dialogue. Just the notion that these gun-toting inbreds can have an influence on national policy is mind-boggling. These sand-billies are loud, stupid, and proud of it!

Racism is important. It needs to be recognized for what is and stamped out. Looking back over the six decades of my life, however, I can see that the country has changed significantly. Schools have been integrated, black Americans can ride in the front of the bus and sit in first-class when they fly, we all use the same water fountains and restrooms, and then there's that family in the White House!

Things have changed dramatically over the course of my lifetime, but they are far from perfect, as the idiots in Arizona so aptly demonstrate.

But Arizona knuckle-draggers are not the be-all and end-all of life on earth. They are, indeed, just a momentary apparition that will be no more than a minor footnote in history texts printed in every place but Texas. (Texas textbooks will probably have whole chapters devoted to this racist nonsense, and people like Jan Brewer, Russell Pearce, and Joe Arpaio will be portrayed as Aryan patriots!)

The real story of lasting importance today is the Gulf oil spill. The oil is now tainting the waters of Louisiana's barrier islands, and reports state that it is reaching the beaches of Alabama. Latest news stories indicate that the big cement box that was lowered over the leak isn't working - and the oil keeps pumping into the Gulf.

This past week (May 4th) my favorite writer, William Rivers Pitt, posted a piece on entitled "Things Fall Apart." In that article which was drawn from multiple sources, Mr. Pitt posits that the Gulf oil spill could be the final catastrophe. If it can't be brought under control, the oil gusher beneath the Gulf of Mexico has the potential to ruin seawater worldwide and lead to mass extinction - the end of man's reign on earth.

"Things Fall Apart" can be found here:

Racist stupidity is a very important issue, one that needs to be brought out into the sunshine and dealt with effectively. But when it comes to absolute importance, the environment trumps everything.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Boondock Saints

by Pa Rock
Film Critic

It's hard to beat a good cult classic movie on a hot afternoon, or any other time for that matter. The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Lost Boys, or A Fish Called Wanda will draw me to the small screen like the proverbial moth to the flame - time, and time, and time again.

Today, I finally had the opportunity to see The Boondock Saints, a film that opened in only five U.S. theatres when it was released in 1999 - and where it earned a whopping $30,471. The movie's release followed closely on the heels of the Columbine school massacre, and there was a strong public reaction against stories about bad boys with guns.

The Boondock Saints did a little better on international screens ($219,529), but it came no where near making back its six-million-dollar investment. Positive reaction to the movie began spreading by word-of-mouth, and Blockbuster took it to video where it went gangbusters, earning an estimated fifty million dollars to date.

Troy Duffy, a hard luck bartender/bouncer who wrote the script and directed the movie, let the video rights get away from him early in the process. He brought out a sequel last year and also has a comic book and graphic novel in the works that are based on the film's characters and plot lines, so he may yet wind up doing well financially from this project.

The Boondock Saints is a bloody paean to vigilantism. The focus is on a pair of young, male fraternal twins who do blue-collar work in the meat-packing industry in Boston. The McManus twins (Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus) are good Catholic lads who also enjoy throwing back a few cold ones at a local Irish pub. It is at the Irish pub on St. Paddy's Day when they mix it up with some pushy Russian mobsters. The Russians pay them a visit at their shabby abode later that night, and the boys wind up killing the mobsters.

Enter a very bright FBI Special Agent played by Willem Dafoe who visits the crime scene and determines it was an act of self-defense by persons unknown. Dafoe's character is a hard-as-nails cop-type and also a somewhat flamboyant gay man who doesn't like to cuddle.

Upon hearing that they really are presumed innocent, the Brothers McManus turn themselves in and become instant celebrities with the police and local media. One thing leads to another, and the boys find that they have a talent for killing bad guys - and they enjoy it! As the gangster blood begins to flow freely through the alleys of Boston, Special Agent Smecker (Dafoe) engages in hot pursuit.

There is a nice cameo in this movie of porn star Ron Jeremy who plays a mob under-boss. In a bit of gratuitous justice, the legendarily-endowed Mr. Jeremy manages to get whacked while masturbating in an adult emporium.

The critics almost universally panned this film, but viewers loved it - to the tune of $50 million so far.

There is something about vigilantism that appeals to the baser instincts and gives the powerless, which includes most of us, the feeling that we, too, could become mighty and right the world's wrongs. It is a dangerous premise, one that can easily lead impressionable youth or the armed baboons like those native to Arizona into a life-altering tragedy. But it also fills a need that we all have, the craving to exert some control over our own existence in a world that seems to be racing beyond reason.

The McManus Brothers are good killers and good neighbors. Yes, they were raised poor on the mean streets of Boston, but their mother got them to church regularly and managed to cause them to become fluent in several languages. They are undoubtedly the most intellectual meat-packers in all of Boston. And they are good boys. They dutifully place coins on the eyes of their victims to pay the ferryman for the passage across the River Styx, and they often invoke their special family prayer over their sweating victims, lowlife scum who are fixing to meet their own Gods. The family prayer forms their commitment to do God's work. It follows:

"And shepherds we shall be,
for Thee, my Lord, for Thee.
Power hath descended forth from Thy hand,
that our feet may swiftly carry out Thy command.
So we shall flow a river forth to Thee
and teeming with souls shall it ever be.
In nomine Patris, et filii, et Spiritus Sancti."

Killing for Christ - the very essence of sainthood!

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Ultimate Invasion of Privacy

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Spirit Airlines, a discount air carrier that advertises rates as low as $49 has recently announced a fee for carry-on bags that are too big to fit underneath the passenger's seat. The fee for putting a carry-on in the overhead bin: forty-five dollars! I guess it's good to know that a human being is worth more than an overstuffed suitcase - even if it is just by four dollars!

The rest of the airlines won't be far behind. First they slapped a fee on checked baggage. That, of course, caused all of the yahoos to start dragging their bags on board the plane and cramming them into the limited overhead storage. So now the game will be what? Maybe packing in plastic Wal-Mart bags and seeing how many can be crammed under the seats?

And don't even get me started on the peanuts' situation!

But now a new outrage is about to be foisted on the American flying public: full-body scanners!

There was a story on the internets today about an employee at Miami International Airport - a TSA screener - who brutally assaulted a co-worker with a police baton. Those two screeners and several others had been learning how to use the new full-body scanners, machines that are so thorough they can see breast implants. When one guy (the assaulter) walked through the scanner to show the others how it worked, co-workers noticed that his male genitalia didn't measure up to their lofty standards. The poor fellow went through a couple of days of junior-high-type verbal abuse before finally taking his revenge out on one particularly obnoxious co-worker.

So not only will the airline employees now be able to look through our luggage, they will even be able to look through the clothes on our backs! Privacy be damned! Maybe instead of just exposing ourselves to some slobbering (or snickering), prurient screeners, we should all just suck it up and fly naked!

Of course the airlines would then probably start charging an "entertainment" fee!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Boone Macy at Eleven

by Pa Rock
Proud Grandpa

My oldest grandson, Boone Macy of West Plains, Missouri, turned eleven today - seis de Mayo. I called him this evening to wish him a happy birthday. It was his second birthday call of the evening - sneaky Uncle Tim had beaten me to it!

Boone was born in West Plains, and I had the good fortune to be able to drive down from my home at the time in Waynesville, Missouri, and meet Boone on his first day of life. He was a beautiful baby, and the only two people on the planet who were prouder than me were his mom and dad!

Boone will always hold a special place in my heart. I remember playing with him and the water hose in his back yard one hot summer day. When he would come to visit me at Rock's Roost my big dogs, Paladin and Paloma, (Great Pyrenees) always slobbered all over him! And I'll never forget how excited he got when he saw me taking the big, green peddle car out of my car and carrying it up toward his house. Boone wasn't completely sure what it was, but he instinctively knew that it was something special for him.

Another great memory is of Boone at about the age of four teaching Uncle Tim and me how to play Crazy 8's. I'm fairly certain that he won the game! The first time we went to the movies by ourselves, we watched Brother Bear.

I drove Boone to school one day when he was in kindergarten. He wanted me to come in, and I dutifully followed him through the big doors. Little Boone knew everyone and they all came up to talk. Finally we made it to his room where he introduced me to his teacher. I was very pleased to find out that my grandson was so gregarious!

Boone and I have been on some good trips. We have gone to the Grand Canyon twice (and not fallen in!), to San Diego where we went to the ocean and to the famous zoo, and to Disney World followed by a cruise to the Bahamas on a Disney ship. It is so much fun to see the world through new eyes! This year we will go back to San Diego, and next year we are going someplace really special!

Boone, I love you - and I am so very proud of you! You are a wonderful grandson!

I am very pleased to be your...

Pa Rock

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco de Mayo - Arizona Style!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

How can a state as culturally and intellectually backward as Arizona continue to make national news day after day? The answer is obvious: as long as we keep showing our ass, the spotlight will stay on.

Today is Cinco de Mayo, the Mexican holiday that is widely celebrated throughout the United States. Our local goose-steppers, of course, could not let the occasion go untarnished. An idiotic group calling itself the Arizona Citizens Militia is encouraging people (presumably white people) to celebrate Cinco de Ammo by rushing down to their local gun stores and buying five boxes of ammunition.

Could that be a call for a revolution? Would an armed attack on American soil, without benefit of government sanction, be patriotism ... or treason?

Another hate group, the local chapter of the National Socialist Movement, put out a flier that renamed Cinco de Mayo as "Report an Illegal Day." An act which proves, I suppose, that the Constitution even protects the speech rights of racist crazies - as it should.

All of that went relatively unnoticed - but what stirred the locals was an act of protest put forth by our local basketball team, the Phoenix Suns. Today, in honor of Cinco de Mayo and in solidarity with the Hispanic residents of the state, the Suns brought out their special jerseys - jerseys that proudly proclaimed "Los Suns!" Team members voted unanimously to wear the controversial jerseys.

Many Arizonans loved the gesture - and many did not.

Apparently the San Antonio Spurs have jerseys on order proclaiming "Los Spurs," but they didn't arrive in time for Cinco de Mayo - or in time for tonight's playoff game with Los Suns.

Way to go Suns and Spurs! Pa Rock is proud of you!

John McCain: Banana Republican

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

I started composing this piece in my head yesterday, shortly after hearing a news snippet that linked a statement by gold-peddler Glenn Beck with a statement by Arizona's angry geriatric senator, John McCain. My initial opening line was going to be: "Is Glenn Beck really smarter than John McCain?" Upon reflection, however, I was very uncomfortable using the adjective "smart" or its comparative form, "smarter," in any reference to either of those windbags.

So, allow me to rewind and make the same point in a more accurate manner.

Is John McCain really dumber than Glenn Beck? If the answer to that question is dependent on their knowledge of the importance of the United States Constitution to the preservation of our basic freedoms, then sadly the answer must be yes. McCain, it seems, thinks that Constitutional rights should not necessarily be afforded to Americans who are accused of terrorism. The bombastic Mr. Beck, on the other hand, understands the importance of all Americans being afforded Constitutional protections, even if they are accused of terrorism.

At issue is the Miranda warning where a policeman or officer of the court is obliged to tell a suspect of his right to contact an attorney and his right to remain silent. Dick Cheney told us all, through deed and action during the dark and awful years of the Bush administration, that the Constitution was an encumbrance whose main purpose was to provide protection to bad guys. Cheney and company argued that you could get far more information from someone by beating or torturing it out of them than by civil interrogation.

Experts have said all along that intelligence gathered through torture is not reliable because someone who is being tortured will say anything to get the pain to stop - and will often tell the torturers exactly what they want to hear, whether it is true or not.

Certain conservative troglodytes smelled red meat last December when the Obama administration let the Department of Justice interrogate the Christmas day "underwear bomber," a Nigerian youth named Farouk Abdulmuttalab. They wanted to let the public know that all kinds of valuable intelligence would be lost if it was not quickly beaten out of the kid. But the Department of Justice went about gathering information in a more humane - and much smarter - manner. They brought the boy's family over from Nigeria and had them talk to him. That old fashioned, non-lethal approach led to the underwear bomber singing like a canary. He gave lots of credible information to his captors.

Now we are dealing with another terrorist, and this one is an American citizen. Faisal Shahzad was arrested for leaving a car bomb in Times Square. This time certain conservatives are howling because the suspect was read his Miranda rights, a protection routinely afforded to all Americans, regardless of the type of crime that they are accused of committing. Senator Joe Liebermann, a pompous pillar of pure poop, feels that any American accused of terrorism should lose his citizenship - then that pesky old Miranda warning wouldn't be a problem.

John McCain, who gets stupider by the day as he tries to fend off a right-wing primary election challenge from radio clown J.D. Hayworth, is angry (isn't he always?) that Shahzad was read his Miranda rights. He sees that as some form of criminal coddling, and would prefer that interrogators pull out a few fingernails and snap a bone or two as they do their job. But Shahzad spilled his terrorist guts without having any bones broken or testicles smashed.

My theory is that McCain's Panama roots are showing. He is beginning to act more like a paranoid ruler of some Central American banana fiefdom than the noble statesman he once aspired to be.

And it was Glenn Beck (another radio clown) who took McCain to school over the importance of not messing with Constitutional rights. Beck understands and appreciates the Constitution of the United States of America, a document that allows him to say outrageous things about the government without fear of being dragged off to a secret gulag somewhere in the drifting sands of Arizona.

Wake up and smell the freedom, John. The Constitution protects the rights of all of us, terrorists and senators alike. It is what our brave people in the military put their lives on the line to defend, and it should not be invoked and revoked at the whims of politicians or other mere mortals.

John, you more than many, understand the actual price of freedom. It's time that you returned to being true to what you know is right - and quit being a dick!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tuesday's Hate Group:

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

"Stormfront is a resource for those courageous men and women fighting to preserve their White Western culture, ideals, and freedom of speech and association - a forum for planning strategies and forming political and social groups to ensure victory." -- Stormfront Mission Statement

Stormfront is an Internet watering hole for white supremacists. It was started two decades ago as an online bulletin board promoting Klansman David Duke's campaign for the United States Senate from Louisiana, and in 1995 it became the first successful website dedicated to white supremacy. While some earlier attempts to use the Internet to promote racial strife had faded, began just as the concept of the Internet started to catch fire with the American public, and the site thrived.

Stormfront was receiving over 40,000 unique visitors each day in 2008, and it was being monitored by several human rights organizations including the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The ADL has described the supremacist website as being "a veritable supermarket of online hate, stocking its shelves with many forms of anti-Semitism and racism."

The owner and operator of Stormfront, Don Black, is a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and a former member of the National Socialist White People's Party (nee American Nazi Party). He also served time in prison for taking part in a failed attempt to overthrow the government of Dominica.

Stormfront Motto: White Pride World Wide.

Arizona recently passed its now infamous SB 1070, a bill whose intent was to foster discrimination against Hispanics - although local politicians are adamant that there was no racism involved in the creation of this angry legislation. And while that statement is laughable on its face, it now turns out there is an Internet trail of breadcrumbs that connects one of Arizona's most powerful legislators with two white supremacists groups.

Chuck Gray, the Arizona Senate Majority Leader - and a Republican - was discovered this week to be a "follower" of Stormfront on Twitter. This did not occur accidentally. Senator Gray or someone with access to his Twitter account had to go out and intentionally add his name as a follower of Stormfront. After that tidbit hit the news, it was learned that Senator Gray is also a Twitter follower of ScarecrowWPWW, another white supremacist site that has ties to Stormfront.

Apparently Chuck Gray has now stopped following both of these hate groups on his Twitter account. A little sunshine can be a very powerful motivator!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Monday's Poetry: "The Boy Died in My Alley"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

This piece of modern American poetry by the late Gwendolyn Brooks looks at the bloody underbelly of urban life and the guilt that comes with keeping one's head down and minding one's own business. It is an ode to hopelessness and soul pain given voice by a narrator who has seen it before and will surely see it again. It is life shouted, and then cut short.

"The Boy Died in My Alley"
by Gwendolyn Brooks

to Running Boy

The Boy died in my alley
without my Having Known.
Policeman said, next morning,
"Apparently died Alone."

"You heard a shot?" Policeman said.
Shots I hear and Shots I hear.
I never see the Dead.

The Shot that killed him yes I heard
as I heard the Thousand shots before;
careening tinnily down the nights
across my years and arteries.

Policeman pounded on my door.
"Who is it?" "POLICE!" Policeman yelled.
"A Boy was dying in your alley.
A Boy is dead, and in your alley.
And have you known this Boy before?"

I have known this Boy before.
I have known this boy before, who ornaments my alley.
I never saw his face at all.
I never saw his futurefall.
But I have known this Boy.

I have always heard him deal with death.
I have always heard the shout, the volley.
I have closed my heart-ears late and early.
And I have killed him ever.

I joined the Wild and killed him
with knowledgeable unknowing.
I saw where he was going.
I saw him Crossed. And seeing,
I did not take him down.

He cried not only "Father!"
but "Mother!
The cry climbed up the alley.
It went up to the wind.
It hung upon the heaven
for a long
stretch-strain of Moment.

The red floor of my alley
is a special speech to me

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Gene Taylor Effect

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Not to worry Gulf Coasters, Mississippi Congressman Gene Taylor flew over the massive oil spill today and announced: "It’s not as bad as I thought." Taylor, an astute southern politician, seems to believe that the oil will disperse naturally before reaching the shore of his state. Oh, yes, it's serious alright, but the congressman says that it's "certainly no Armageddon."

But it's still pumping, Gene, it's still pumping! At a million gallons a day, when will it become Armageddon?

This Gene Taylor is a Democrat, although he votes rather consistently with the Republicans and does a good job of representing knee-jerk conservative positions. I once personally knew another congressman named Gene Taylor. He was a Republican used car dealer, and he wasn't the sharpest pencil in the box either!

For those who take a more realistic view of the crisis on our southern shore, Huffington Post has posted a piece on how we can help:

It's time to get started, even if the oil is still gushing!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Nobody Wants No Oily Shrimp!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

A week ago British Petroleum told us that the oil leak beneath the Deepwater Horizon oil rig was 5,000 gallons a day. It was bad, but they would get it stopped and pay for the cleanup. Yesterday the estimate was that the leak was more like 200,000 gallons a day. The Feds were declaring it a situation of national significance, and they would step in to help staunch the flow and contain the damage. Today the estimate is that over a million gallons of oil a day are gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, and the slick is already the size of Puerto Rico.

And it just gets worse, and worse, and worse.

If a million gallons a day is correct, the spill will surpass that caused by the Exxon Valdez a couple of decades ago in the waters off of Alaska. It will officially become the worst oil spill in history tomorrow - with no end in sight! If the oil slick makes it into the Gulf Stream, which now appears likely, the spill will make its way around Florida and work its way up the eastern coast of the United States. The country could have oily beaches from Miami to Coney Island.

This is really, truly, terribly serious.

It seems like we, all of us, should be doing something - rescuing sea creatures, cleaning beaches, washing the oil off of sea birds - something. But this crisis is epic, and it is far from over. All we can do is stay out of the way and hope that somebody can figure out a way to turn the oil tap off.

This man-made tragedy is devastating the economy of the U.S. Gulf Coast. Things were just starting to get back to normal after the deadly hurricanes of a couple of years ago, and New Orleans is still years away from completely recovering from Hurricane Katrina - and then they get hit with this!

Jimmy Rowell is a third-generation shrimp and oyster fisherman in Pass Christian, Mississippi. The 61-year-old Rowell knows that his livelihood and his way of life are slipping away with each gallon of oil that spills into the Gulf. He commented on the growing oil slick that is heading his way: "It's over for us. If this oil comes ashore, it's just over for us. Nobody wants no oily shrimp."

And indeed, nobody does.