Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

by Pa Rock
Popcorn Muncher
Last night I watched my first in-theatre movie since arriving on Okinawa. The theatre at Kadena is huge and runs several different movies each week on its one screen. It is also very relaxed, in some respects, compared to stateside theatres - with their being no problem at all with me carrying in my large drink from outside. (I did buy their popcorn.) It is very formal and military, though, when it comes to the playing of the national anthem. Everyone is expected to stand at attention until the last note has sounded, and even the squalling brats seem to know that they'd better put a cork in it for a couple of minutes.

Last night's movie was The Sorcerer's Apprentice, a Disney action flick starring Nicholas Cage and Jay Baruchel. Plot in a half-shell: Nick Cage plays an old sorcerer named Balthazar Blake who had been one of three apprentices to Merlin back in the day. His mission is to carry Merlin's dragon ring into the future in search of the Prime Merlinian (ouch!) who, once trained, will have the power to kill the evil Morgana.

Jay Baruchel is the quirky Dave, a twenty-year-old physics student and genius who has his own laboratory in an abandoned subway turnaround far beneath the streets of New York. It turns out that Dave is also the Prime Merlinian (ouch, again!). Dave becomes Balthazar's apprentice and works at learning the magic skills that will help him to defeat one of Merlin's other apprentices - a nasty fellow who became an evil-doer after he and Balthazar both fell in love with Veronica, Merlin's third apprentice.

As convoluted as all of that sounds, the plot is simple and easy to follow. The action is intense, but not something that would give anyone nightmares. There is also a nice coating of humor that is a Disney hallmark. The funniest and most endearing scene in the movie has the bumbling Dave trying to clean up the laboratory before his date arrives. He decides to try and use some of his blossoming sorcerer abilities, and sets the brooms and mops to dancing their way around the lab, a la the original Sorcerer's Apprentice. Dave's attempt at housecleaning without using any personal effort quickly goes out of control with almost disastrous consequences!

The Sorcerer's Apprentice is fun fare. It has action, laughs, and an awfully good performance by Jay Baruchel. The movie was well worth the pleasant evening walk to and from the theatre - and the price of the popcorn!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Military Censors Powerball and Planned Parenthood

by Pa Rock
I am so anxious to get out of billeting and into my own place away from the air base - and a primary reason for that is the rampant censorship that seems to be so important to the military.

I brought several Powerball tickets with me from the states. They probably aren't winners - they never are - but I won't know for sure until I get off of Kadena. The military in it's infinite wisdom censors the Powerball site because it is categorized as "gambling!" Never mind that I can walk one block down the street to the Officer's Club and play slot machines all day long and well into the night. I can also participate in poker tournaments at that same club. But the military is going to protect me from the evils of Powerball whether I want the protection or not!

This morning I tried to access the Planned Parenthood site to sign a cyber-petition. That site was blocked because it is thought to promote "sex education." God forbid that the young people in today's military, or their children, receive any of that evil sex education stuff. After all, sex ed is known to cause babies and spread venereal disease. Just ask Sarah Palin. She never let her kids have any of that sex education crap. You betcha she didn't! And she will also keep it away from Bristol's out-of-wedlock baby! Sex education, indeed!

And then there is the matter of porn. Even the mildest of sites are blocked by the military. (Don't ask me how I know!) And I guess that is good because we certainly don't want our young service people who are living here, often alone and on two-year tours, to have any access to materials that might lead to them pleasuring themselves in the safety of their dorm rooms. That's what the bar girls and back alleys are for!

Suddenly I am beginning to realize why we have gotten so bogged down in the Middle East!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lovely to Hear You Again, My Friends

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist
It seemed like old times yesterday morning when the Armed Forces Radio Network ran a story about Federal Judge Susan Bolton derailing the most odious parts of Arizona's racist Senate Bill 1070.

AFN ran an obligatory sound bite from Governor Jan Brewer in which she cackled that the judge's ruling only amounts to a "little bump in the road." The Sand Hag, who immediately vowed to put the matter before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, may be right about this being only a minor setback, but one can always hope that it will be the critical "bump in the road" that sends this cracker clown car plunging into the Grand Canyon!

The next sound bite on the story came from Maricopa County's geriatric sheriff, Joe Arpaio. Sheriff Joe, who does not have the ability to walk by a camera or a microphone without stopping to dispense his effluence, said basically that the judge's ruling would have no impact on him because he never listens to judges anyway.

Now we can all sit back, put our feet up, crack open a beer, and wait for the Republicans to start their show. They will be going at it hammer-and tong about the evilness of activist judges whose main function in society is to thwart the will of the people. (Never mind that the people in this case are wearing bedsheets and dancing around a burning cross!) Those yahoos consider a judge who does anything that would benefit the poor or downtrodden to be activist. However, they see judges who engineer election thefts (George Bush in 2000) or give corporations the right to pour unlimited amounts of cash into the election process (Citizens United) as conscientious jurists who are just looking out for the rights of normal (rich, white) Americans.

Kudos to Judge Bolton for putting the "little bump in the road" in front of SB 1070. That is definitely a step in the right direction. But America still needs to come together and put its collective shoulder to the wheel in an effort to stop, or at least slow down, the juggernaut of rampant racism that Arizona seems to be loosing on the rest of the nation.

Boycott Arizona! Boycott Arizona and contact Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to demand that the 2011 Baseball All-Star Game be moved to someplace more respectable, someplace where the color of one's skin does not limit their civil rights. It's time that we all stand up to the evil nonsense!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Facebook? Forget About It!

by Pa Rock
Internet Activist
I don't like Facebook. I have never liked Facebook. My name got added to its crap-infested site a couple of years ago when my daughter wanted to send me some pictures through its pages, so I let them add me to their rolls. Big mistake!

My first issue with Facebook is that I don't understand how to use it. That's on me, but unless a service is personally important to me - and Facebook isn't - I'm not going to invest the time to make it a functioning part of my life. If I want someone to know something about me, I will send them an email, or maybe even a letter. And if I want to post information indiscriminately, I will do that on one or all of my blogs.

And games? Games are something that you play on the kitchen table, with friends, real people who laugh and swear and cheat! If you want me to play Mafia Wars, get the edition that comes in a box and bring it over to my place some evening - and we'll play! And farm animals? Don't send me any freaking cyber-cows! I've lived on a farm, and I much prefer the real ones - the ones that require feeding and watering even in the frozen darkness of winter. It's a lot more work, but it is REAL!

Okay, so here is what has me going on about Facebook today: a friend from my childhood has "friended" me. I haven't heard from the lady in decades, and it would be nice to reply back and ask how she is doing. But Facebook has its panties in a knot because I have moved, and they want me to verify that I am really me. So they had me re-type a couple of words and then wanted me to identify the people in some photographs who were, I suppose, from my friends list. I could only "skip" two photos. The pictures were of people I didn't know, or of children in the 1950's. Some were blurred, and some were taken at such a distance that Hercule Poirot could not have ID'd them. So I failed the test - and can retake it in an hour!

Facebook, you sent me this communication, remember? You are a two-bit public nuisance, not the CIA! If you want me to play, quit screwing with me - and make the connection. Otherwise, leave me the hell alone!

On second thought, forget about it. I won't be back to retry in a hour because I quit!

(This angry typist would love to hear from anyone who knows the process for getting one's name removed from the bad cyber-blowjob that is Facebook!)

A Little Sunshine is a Good Thing

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist
Just as the Pentagon Papers exposed massive amounts of subterfuge on the part of our government in misleading the American public about our reasons for being in Vietnam, the release this week of over 90,000 classified military documents by Wikileaks appears set to rock the foundations of our current misadventure in the Middle East.

I claim no geopolitical expertise in Middle Eastern politics or U.S. military strategies, but I do know that we invaded Iraq without cause (other than to bolster George Bush's pissy ego), and we have been chasing Osama bin Laden (or doing whatever) in Afghanistan for nearly a decade and appear to be in worse shape now than we were going in. We are apparently trying to nation-build around a despot, an objective that is laughable on its face and puts thousands of young American troops squarely at risk from several quarters.

It should have gone like this: establish a plan with clear and achievable goals, execute the plan, achieve the goals, and get the hell out. Unfortunately, ten years in, our goals are ill-defined and subject to change depending on who happens to be leading our war effort at the moment, and what President Karzai had for breakfast on that particular day.

The synopsis of the massive pile of documents indicates that our "ally" in the region, Pakistan, has been cooperating with the Taliban on a fairly open basis, thus thwarting our aims with regard to Afghanistan. Lower level officers, the ones who wrote many of the memos that were released by Wikileaks, knew of this duplicity on the part of Pakistani officials, and they blew the whistle loud, long, and often. Unfortunately our government failed to do anything about the warnings from our troops in the field.

And now our government is outraged by this massive leak of classified documents. Embarrassment is a powerful force.

Why were these missives from the field classified in the first place? Was it to protect lives and safeguard sensitive information that would be critical to the war effort, or was it to bury this intelligence that ran counter to what our government wanted to officially know? My estimation is that it was a burial, and now our government is going nuts because the corpse has been dug up and put on public display.

It's time that we got our act together with regard to Afghanistan. President Karzai has his own agenda, and he is not vested in to concept of creating a democratic state. The country is still largely a feudal realm comprised of tribes with no allegiance to one another or to the concept of a single state. The British threw it together like a really bad crazy quilt. The Soviets tried to subdue it but failed. And now it looks like we are caught up on the same merry-go-round and will fall off, probably sooner rather than later.

What were our goals going in? The stated objective was to capture Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice for his part in the attacks of September 11, 2001. That goal quickly went by the wayside and seemed to morph into some nation-building venture. There was then an influx of western oil companies rushing into the region to sign agreements to handle Middle Eastern oil. There was also talk of securing new oil routes out of the region. Were we there, and are we still there, to serve as a security force for the oil industry? Is one of our primary missions simply to use up armaments and ordinance as fast as possible in order to keep the arms merchants living in luxury?

Or how about drugs? The primary economy of Afghanistan is based on the opium poppy, and the fields are literally everywhere. Heroin derived from the opium poppy is a major drug issue in this country. We fight the Taliban for the freedom of the Afghan people, and at the same time we allow our own citizens to be enslaved by easy access to drugs that have their origins in the fields of Afghanistan. Have we torched one poppy field during the decade that we have been in Afghanistan? Have we?

The war in Afghanistan has been a hard slog with minimal positive results. Perhaps the best outcome has been that many girls and women have had the opportunity to go to school and live as free human beings. Maybe that is an outcome that is worth the time, and money, and blood that we have sacrificed there. If it is, let's say so. Make that the goal, declare it achieved, and try to build support in the world community for protecting those cultural advances.

But we can't be the sole policing force in Afghanistan or Iraq. We can't go door-to-door, house-to-house to weed out dissidents forever. Karzai doesn't want a true democracy. The Taliban is in the hills waiting patiently to return in triumph. And then there is always our "friends' in Pakistan.

Wikileaks has performed a necessary function of informing the public about the Pakistani agenda in Afghanistan, much as Daniel Ellsberg did forty years ago in giving us insight into LBJ's rationale for being in Vietnam.

A little sunshine is a good thing.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Little Girl from Little Rock

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist
Chelsea Clinton grew up in a circus, so it only seems fitting that she also gets married in one.

The television celebrity shows are all abuzz (agog?) with stories about Chelsea's wedding this weekend on the banks of the Hudson River in a posh portion of New York state. She is being married at a place called Astor Courts, whose very name reeks of old money - lots and lots of old money. That's a nice touch, because the Arkansas hillbillies, er...uh...Clintons, are definitely new money.

New money - like within the last decade new. Some reports state that Bill piled up a hefty $109 million in speaking fees since leaving the White House ten years ago.

So Chelsea's parents have the where-with-all to throw a really swell wedding for their princess when she marries Marc Mezvinsky on Saturday. Estimates of the total cost range from two to five million dollars. Not too shabby of a sendoff for a curly-headed little girl from Little Rock!

Of course, I guess that when invitations run more than a hundred dollars each, and table settings are over two hundred dollars a piece, the whole shindig can get awfully pricey awfully quickly. (They did manage to get the air-conditioned tents at a steal - a meager six hundred grand!) And then there is the extra cash that goes into closing down air space around the event, and paying good overtime to platoons of local cops. (I wouldn't want to imagine what could happen to some modern day Huck Finn who chose that particular Saturday to go floating down the Hudson on a homemade raft!)

But safety is of primary importance - Oprah is coming for pete's sake, and so is Barbra Streisand, and Spielberg, and Ted Turner. Somehow even President Obama managed to finagle an invitation!

What a shame the general public will be barred from this glorious event. They should at least be let in far enough to see the clown cars swerving through the elephant poop!

Best wishes, Chelsea and Mark. May your life together be one of simplicity and much happiness!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Big Heads are Rolling!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist
If there ever was a time when some big heads need to be rolling, surely it is now.

General Stanley McChrystal was fired a couple of weeks ago for disrespecting his commander-in-chief within earshot of a journalist. He officially stepped down yesterday - better late than never. McChrystal should have been shown the door after his cover-up of the circumstances of the friendly-fire death of Pat Tillman. Instead, President Obama inexplicably promoted him to head the war in Afghanistan. Well, what goes around, comes around, and I doubt that any of the Tillman's regret the sudden downturn in the fortunes of Stanley McChrystal.

The second enlarged cranium to find itself staring down at the chopping block belongs to BP chief executive Tony Hayward. News stories today indicate that he will unemployed by next Tuesday. Hayward, like McChrystal, has managed to take a very bad situation and make it worse. While the whole world watched oil gushing into the Gulf for the umpteenth day in a row, Hayward was participating in a yachting competition around the Isle of Wight. His public relations skills are right down there with McChrystal's!

Neither of these were "clean" firings. Stanley McChrystal got to pin on his fourth star before "retiring," thus pumping up his monthly retirement pay while adding some luster to his tarnished career. And Hayward will undoubtedly have a golden parachute that could bankroll a couple of third world nations. But the good news remains - they're gone!

Now, if the Feds would just complete their investigation of Joe Arpaio...!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Arizona Voters Oust Predatory Payday Lenders

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist
Getting Arizona out of my system is much like trying to rid myself of scorpion venom. It is painful, and it tends to linger in the bloodstream for a long, long time.

Good friend, Xobekim, forwarded a news release from Arizona's Attorney General, Terry Goddard, regarding new legislation that rids the state of a god-awful blight on human decency: payday lenders. Goddard, a democrat who is running against incumbent cracker Jan Brewer for governor of America's most racist state, has been at the forefront of enforcing the mandate passed by the voting public in 2008 which cleanses the state of the vile payday lenders.

I was pleased to have had to opportunity to help vote payday lenders out of existence in Arizona, but even with a decisive public vote, they did not go quietly. The villainous practioners of usury fought back hard against the will of the people, and generously dumped money into the pockets of many Arizona politicians (mostly Republicans) in an effort to save their golden egg-laying geese. Some of our well-bribed legislators openly deplored this act of the voters, claiming that it was going to hurt the state economically by killing jobs - the jobs of the sleazeballs who worked in the payday loan industry!

Many of the payday lenders are closing up shop and moving to greener pastures, but others are dragging their heels. Terry Goddard has set up a hotline for people to report any of these characters still found to be cheating the poor in Arizona. (866-879-5219) Some who want to remain have switched their game to "car title" lenders. That sounds like another public vote just waiting to happen.

It is refreshing to note that good things can come out of Arizona, a state that often seems to take unlimited pride in its bigotry and hatred.

Okinawan Odyssey: Insights of an Explorer

by Pa Rock
Planet Trekker
Tonight I have started a new blog entitled Okinawan Odyssey. It is located at Please join me as I employ this new venue to chronicle my adventures on Okinawa and throughout the Far East. It will be a great trip!

Happy Birthday, Nick Macy!

by Pa Rock
Proud Father
My oldest, Nick Macy, was born thirty-seven years ago today at Camp Kue Army Hospital on the island of Okinawa. Nick is a good person and a hard worker. He is also one of the finest dads that I have ever known. Nick's eleven-year-old son, Boone, is the light of his life - and of mine!

I never expected to have the opportunity to return to the island where Nick was born, but life has lots of twists and turns - and here I am!

Happy birthday, Nick, from your dad. I am thinking of you fondly in the land of your birth.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Getting Settled In and Acclimated

by Pa Rock
New Kid in Town
My new boss picked me up at noon and we had a nice lunch at a restaurant on a hilltop that overlooked a wide expanse of the East China Sea and the flight line at Kadena. After that I met some of my co-workers. It was surprising and pleasing to find that I immediately felt so at home here.

The big excitement at my office is that someone brought a family of hedgehogs to work, and a couple of the babies have escaped and are on the loose somewhere in the building. I think that I will fit into the staff here rather nicely!

One of the young airmen drove me to Tori Station (an army base) this afternoon where I completed some of my official paperwork. While there I learned that my annual housing allowance is approximately the size of my annual salary. I am looking forward to getting out and finding an apartment. The ladies who helped me in-process at Tori were delightful. One came here from a previous assignment in England - and she loves it here!

The drive to Tori Station and back cut through a nice slice of Okinawan daily life. I am anxious to get out and begin exploring.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I'll Follow the Sun

by Pa Rock
Pacific Islander
Just woke up to my first full day on Okinawa in many years. There are two American radio stations on the island, both apparently sponsored by the military. The AM station is NPR - praise Allah!, and the FM station is classic rock. The first song to play on the classic rock station as I was waking today: "I'll Follow the Sun" by the Beatles. That was followed a few tunes later by the Beach Boys' "Fun, Fun , Fun!" I am taking those both as good omens.

My new boss will pick me up soon for lunch and a tour of the place where I will be working. I am looking forward to meeting my new co-workers, and hoping that one or two of them would like to get out this weekend and show me some of the island.

Today's weather forecast: low of 70 degrees, high of 86 degrees, and a chance of rain. Eat your heart out, Phoenix!

I am unpacked into my temporary quarters, and hoping that finding permanent housing will be one of the achievable priorities.

Local radio has been advertising tours and concerts all morning. Apparently Disney World Tokyo is a big draw here, and Snoop Dogg is on the island getting ready to perform.

The lady deejay - a staff sergeant - says that the Air Force exchanges 85 yen per dollar. When I came here nearly forty years ago the rate was 300 yen to the dollar - but then that rat bastard Nixon devalued the dollar with no warning, and it was cut in half to around 150 yen to the dollar - which really hurt all of us who were in housing out on the economy and had to pay our rent in yen!

I am off to have a wonderful day - even if it rains!

(Note: This entry was actually posted on the morning of July 23, 2010 on Okinawa. I haven't been able to figure out how to get Google to realize that I am no longer in Hellizona!)

Safe Arrival

by Pa Rock
Globe Trotter

I arrived back on Okinawa a couple of hours ago. It was dark when the plane touched down, so I really haven't gotten to see much yet. On the drive up to Kadena Air Base from Naha Airport, I did see Naha Port, where I worked so many years ago, and Sam's Anchor Inn - my favorite restaurant from the past. Many differences were also apparent, like the existence of a monorail in Naha! My new boss at Kadena, who was also one of my old bosses at Luke, picked me up at Naha airport and got me to my temporary quarters. She has been here for about a year and has lots of good advice on things to do and not do on Okinawa. She has taken up diving here - that might be fun!

The Naha Airport is decorated with thousands of live orchids - all in bloom!

One final dig at Phoenix: Luggage carts at Skyharbor are $4.00. They are free at Narita Airport in Tokyo and also at Naha Airport. Come on, "World's Friendliest Airport - not! - get with the program!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ramble Down

by Pa Rock
Airport Lurker

It is the middle of the night and I am situated at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix waiting on the Continental ticket counter to open at 3:30 a.m. Sky Harbor is trying to re-brand itself as "America's Friendliest Airport," but that dog ain't gonna hunt. This is the same place where airport security managed to kill a drunk lady traveler from New York three years ago - coincidentally, that was the same weekend that I moved to Phoenix.

This is likely to be my last posting on The Ramble for a few days - until I have time to get to Okinawa and find an Internet service provider. (I refuse to pay Verizon $1.99 a minute to use my air card over there! Thieving bastards!)

In the meantime, until I get back, check out this site: I am doing some experimenting with it, and will share some of my findings later.

I'll be back!

Stray Cat Blues

by Pa Rock
Future Ex-Arizonan

Scroungy Bastard and I said our goodbyes twice tonight. I took him to my neighbor's house, as prearranged with them. The neighbors are away for a few weeks, and they have another neighbor coming in each evening to feed their cat, Anson. Scroungy did not like being forcibly taken to Anson's house, and he was most unhappy when I left him there.

Then I went home and packed.

A couple of hours later as I was preparing to drive off, Scroungy came walking down the street, very pleased with himself at being loose. I am guessing that he must have seized the moment and bolted when the neighbor showed up to put out their supper. I tried to coax him to me so that I could take him back to the neighbor's, but Scroungy, who had been fooled once this evening, was having none of that.

So as I drove out of the Wheezin' Geezer for the last time, Scroungy Bastard was roaming the park free, exactly as he was when we met a year ago. He has had his shots now - $250 worth - and is in tip-top health, so I suspect he will make it. The neighbors will be home in another week, and he really likes them, so I am hopeful that he will be a successful beggar until they return.

Scroungy, buddy, I wish you well. Live free and prosper - I plan to!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Final Goodbyes

by Pa Rock
Sentimental Old Fool

I completed my time at Luke Air Force Base today by saying the last of my goodbyes. I have worked with a group of really fine people at Luke, and I will miss them all.

We had a nice pizza luncheon today, and staff presented me with an electronic book reader by Sony. I didn't have time to get any books downloaded onto it before the flight. Tim has been telling me for a year that I need to switch to an electronic reader and get rid of my tons of books. (He hates lugging them around for me!) Now I will get to see if I am suited for that type of reading.

Valerie Seitz and her son, Andrew, gave me a couple of pounds of M&Ms for the flight, and a really special key chain attached to a replica of a fighter jet. I told Andrew that is the key chain that I will use while I am on Okinawa.

I did a lot of hand-shaking and hugging this afternoon. The older I get the harder it is to say goodbye.

My favorite person at Luke has been Anthony Francis, a retired Air Force NCO who now works as a government civilian in Family Advocacy - the clinic that I called home for three years. Mr. Francis goes by "Mister" Francis, or, to a select few, Sergeant Francis. Although Mr. Francis and I have almost nothing in common - he is a black, conservative Republican who thinks the crap on Fox really is news - we have become very close and he is the de facto brother that I never had. Today, the prim and very proper Mr. Francis came up and gave me a hug as I was leaving.

My immediate supervisor, Captain Tisha Cornett, is heading out for a tour of duty in Aviano, Italy, later this week. She is a very dynamic individual, and the air base in Italy will be very lucky to have her join them.

Tonight I packed, and packed, and packed. Most of my stuff fit in three large bags and a carry-on, but I had to abandon a few things. (Whenever I leave someplace, it seems like I always have to abandon something - which means I have too much damned stuff!)

I did learn today that I can connect to Vonage as soon as I get a high speed Internet connection on Okinawa. They will provide me with a phone number from any area code in the United States that I choose (417 is one of my personal favorites!). The plan will include unlimited free calls to anyplace in the United States, Canada, or Japan for $25.99 a month! All of that, and I also know how to use Skype. My how the world has changed since the last time I was on Okinawa - 37 years ago!

Final note: I got to the airport at 10:00 p.m. for my 5:00 a.m. flight in the morning - can't stand being late! As I was driving toward the rental car return, I passed a large outdoor illuminated sign that said the time was 9:30 p.m. and the temperature was 96 degrees! I won't miss that crap - you betcha I won't!

I also saw a very large illuminated billboard on I-10 that was promoting the election of Jan Brewer as governor. It was a beautiful sign and had the Sand Hag represented by a "Rosie the Riveter" character standing in front of an Arizona flag. The sign was great with very appealing artwork - what a shame the subject is such a piss poor joke!

But Arizona deserves Jan Brewer, and Joe Arpaio, and Russell Pearce, and J.T. Ready, and Andy Thomas, and Tom Horne, and J.D. Hayworth, and Jon Kyl, and crabby John McCain, and sand fleas, and scorpions, and rattlesnakes, and rabid javelinas, and bed bugs. Bring 'em on because I'm outta here!

Monday, July 19, 2010

More Goodbyes

by Pa Rock
Sentimental Old Fool

This is my last night at the Wheezin' Geezer. I will spend tomorrow night at the airport, the infamous Sky Harbor, waiting to board a plane at 5 a.m. that will take me the hell out of Arizona.

I said goodbye to my bank today. I bank at the National Bank of Arizona, Goodyear Branch, and I have really tried to like that bank and its employees, but that has proven very hard to do. Most of them do not seem to like their jobs, which makes it hard for me to like their bank. I plan to be much more careful in choosing my next banking facility.

I had dinner this evening with my friend and co-worker, Valerie Seitz, and her son, Andrew. Nice folks. Valerie is pursuing a job on Okinawa and really wants to have the opportunity to work there. Andrew, aged seventeen, is inquisitive about Japan and asked good questions. After dinner we walked to Barnes and Noble where I bought him a copy of James Clavell's Shogun, the classic historical novel of Japan. I hope that Valerie and Andrew make it to Okinawa.

I spoke to all of my children tonight and two of my grandsons. I am hopeful that I will be able to get all of them to Okinawa next year. I understand that the air base sponsors some really good tours to other parts of the Far East, so maybe we will be able to take a side trip while they are there. Early tomorrow morning I am sending my phone, which I can't use on Okinawa, to Tim. So if anyone needs to contact me after that it will have to be by email.

This evening I ordered six large pizzas to take to work for lunch tomorrow. I usually try to treat the staff to lunch whenever I leave a job. Although I have grown to detest the heat, stupidity, and blatant bigotry of Arizona, the staff at Luke has been awesome, and I will truly miss all of those guys!

There is still lots of packing to do!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Seventeen and Sweaty

by Rocky Macy

I dreamed of us the other night
the way we were then
and sweaty
sitting on a gravel bar by the river
watching the moon rise
reaching up
stretching out
lying on an old air mattress
that leaked
enjoying the undressed rehearsal
for the rest of our lives
a naked entanglement
that ended
mercifully soon.

Saying Goodbye

by Pa Rock
Sentimental Old Fool

T minus three days and counting.

Time grows very short before I board that big silver bird and head overseas. I realize with each passing hour that I am saying goodbye to the people and places that I have known intimately for the past three years.

Yesterday I said goodbye to going to my office to work on the weekend. That shit ain't gonna happen anymore! Three of my co-workers were there playing catch-up from the previous week, and it was nice to share a little last-minute camaraderie with them. It has been really great working with the folks at Luke.

Today I had breakfast as the Jack-in-the-Box drive-thru and said goodbye to my young friend, Jaime. We shook hands and he wished me well in my travels. Jaime is on the front end of his travels, while I, alas, am starting one of my last laps around the globe.

After breakfast I went to the gym where I was greeted at the front desk by Mary, a mature lady who learned my name early on and always welcomed me with a "Hi, Rocky, How are you today?" I remain fine, Mary, and I will miss your friendly greetings as I visit my new gym on Okinawa.

My next stop was the Dickinson Theatre in Palm Valley. I used to live close enough to that small multi-plex to walk to the show from my apartment, and after I moved to the Wheezin' Geezer, I kept up the practice of going to the movies there. My best friend there is a little elderly lady who tears the tickets and tells people to enjoy the show. She always remembers me and says something like, "It's nice to see you again this week." My ticket-tearer wasn't there today, so I didn't get to tell her goodbye. I hope that she is okay.

Trivia: The Dickinson Theatre Chain owned the Ozark Theatre in Noel many years ago when I worked there. Later, in college, I worked at the Tower Theatre in Springfield, Missouri - also another Dickinson property. I am glad that they continue to thrive and to give so many young people jobs. I'm sure that their pay is as piss-poor as what I received back in the dark ages, but those are the types of places where we learn the joys of serving the public and sweating in shared sacrifice.

I will be very busy the next two days getting all of my work clearance papers signed, doing last minute banking chores, attending a briefing about my airline connections to Okinawa, serving up pizza to all of my friends at work, and saying goodbye.

It is very hard to say goodbye. I'm not saying "so long for now," or "I'll be seeing you." I'm saying goodbye.

Time grows short...I'm leaving...and I'm not coming back.

Deal with it, Arizona!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Junction City, 1971

by Rocky G. Macy

You’d think that two young studs out on their first afternoon away from the base in weeks would be at a bar, right? Or a whorehouse? Not us.

I was spending my free afternoon following John Michael through Junction City pawnshops. I had already killed an hour looking at televisions, and watches, and jewelry, and junk while John Michael huddled with pawnbrokers on some mysterious business. We were in our third pawnshop before he found what he was looking for.

“Hey, nigger, get over here!” (John Michael only calls his friends "nigger." He can get away from that sort of stuff because he is black. Raul is the only one who can call John Michael nigger.)

“Yeah?” I asked.

John Michael brought his hand from behind his back as I approached. He made a motion with an object that he was holding, and a long, sleek blade sprang toward me.

“Goddamn!” I heard myself swear as I jumped from the blade. “What the hell are you doing?”

John Michael didn’t answer; he just smiled. My reaction must have sealed the deal because he turned and paid the man.

As we left and walked out onto the hot Kansas street, I noticed the pawnbroker staring after us. I suppose he was wondering what a black soldier and a white soldier were going to do with a switchblade. The white soldier wasn’t going to do anything with it, that was for damned sure. And he was going to try and make certain that the black soldier didn't use it either.

We were sitting on our bunks that evening just before “lights out” and John Michael was showing me how to operate his new blade when Raul came crashing in. Raul, the Puerto Rican who sleeps above me, is crazy when he’s sober, but this night he wasn’t sober, so he was worse.

“Hey, assholes.” Raul managed to say as he fell on John Michael’s bunk and stretched out across it. He looked like he was planning on remaining there, so John Michael picked up and moved over to my bunk. As we sat there, John Michael pressed the button of his new toy and waved it through the air for Raul’s benefit.

Raul was impressed. “That’s a beautiful blade, man. Let me see it.” Raul made no effort to get up, so John Michael delivered. With great care and precision, he threw the knife into his own pillow, missing Raul’s head by inches. Raul, who was undisturbed, pulled the knife out of the pillow and began examining it in an almost affectionate manner. “Beautiful. What are you going to do with this blade, nigger?”

“I thinking of taking up carving, nigger.” John Michael replied.

“I’ll bet.” Raul smiled the smile of a self-assured, though somewhat drunk, Puerto Rican. “I’ll bet that you’re going to carve your woman. You’ll slice that bitch into little strips and flush her down her own toilet.”

John Michael smiled and reached over to reclaim his knife. “You know it,” he said.

I knew it, too.

Maybe I should stop here and tell you why John Michael was going to slice his woman, and then it will be easier for you to understand how I wound up in the stockade.

John Michael got married the first week that we were here – several weeks ago. That’s when his problem actually started. He married a Junction City whore named Silky. Yeah, Silky. Can you believe it? John Michael isn’t the smartest G.I. to come down the pike. In fact, he’s not even in the top half!

John Michael met Silky at a bar and three days later they were married. I mean, he didn’t even know she was a whore. He just thought that he had an excess amount of charm. John Michael was married on a Saturday afternoon, and that evening he was back in the barracks. Silky said, “I do.” and “Get lost.” Yeah, really. She just needed the marriage license so she could get a military I.D. Now she can get in the PX, commissary, and places like that. Hell, now she can even work the clubs on base. It’s an old game, one of the oldest, but John Michael didn’t know it. He does now.

John Michael, Raul, and me, and a few dozen other guys, had been sent to Ft. Riley to learn how to pull maintenance on the army’s basic mode of transportation, big two-and-a-half ton trucks aptly called deuce-and-a-halfs. Riley is a hellhole of twisting truck and tank trails leading to remote training sites, and the rough terrain guaranteed that we would always have plenty of vehicles to work on.

We worked together in the same motor pool every day, and we bunked together in the same barracks every night. It was impossible not to get involved in each other’s lives.

My problem began when I took John Michael to see the C.O. about Silky. Sure, I was green. (Less than six months before that I had been running track at Jasper High.) But I had a strong sense of what was right, or should have been right, and I thought the Company Commander would be the one to look out for the welfare of his troops. I quickly learned that might be the case some places with some commanders, but it wasn’t how things were going to work in this maintenance company at Ft. Riley, Kansas.

Captain Perkins looks out strictly for Captain Perkins. He was standing in the orderly room having coffee and shooting the shit with Top (our First Sergeant) and the company clerks when we arrived. The C.O. walked back into his office, sat down behind his desk, and then called us in. I walked in ahead of John Michael and reported, “Sir, Private Eugene Buckholtz reporting, sir.” I saluted and John Michael saluted, too.

Captain Perkins returned our salutes. He smiled, told us to be at ease, and then asked, “Well, men, what’s the problem?”

I told him about John Michael, and the whore, and what she had done to him. Perkins listened, and after I had finished he asked John Michael a few questions about Silky. “Well,” he said after he had the facts, “it sounds like you are married. I’ll inform the Provost Marshall about your wife, but there won’t be much that he can do until she breaks a law or causes trouble. If you divorce her you may have to you may have to pay alimony, and if you don’t divorce her she may come to the army and demand support from you.”

“Shit.” John Michael said.

“There’s more,” Perkins added. “This Silky person is your legal dependent. If she causes any problems on base, Uncle Sam will hold you responsible.” The captain smiled broadly and gave John Michael a parting assessment of his situation. “It looks like you’ve been screwed.”

“Twice,” I added silently, focusing on Captain Perkins’ barely disguised delight in my friend’s rotten situation.

Captain Perkins dismissed John Michael, but told me to stay. “Buckholtz,” he began after John Michael had left, “let me give you some advice. Life is too difficult as it is. Don’t go out of your way to make it worse.”

“Excuse me, sir?”

“Those people’s problems are their own, not yours.”

“I thought their problems should be yours.” That was a mistake.

Captain Perkins looked at me in a way that told me that I now had a problem. He ended our session with an abrupt, “You’re dismissed, soldier.”

There was a surprise waiting for me when I returned to the barracks that evening. I found that I had suddenly been placed on guard duty for the following Saturday night. Well, so much for fighting social injustice!

But it was going to get worse. I’m one of those guys who, when he finds himself in a hole, tends to keep digging. Mama says that when Gene gets stupid, he stays stupid - and nobody knows a guy better than his mama!

By Saturday night when the dreaded guard duty finally rolled around, I was so down from John Michael’s continuing despair that I decided to use that quiet time to fix things. That evening as I boarded the deuce-and-a-half for the ride to a remote guard shack, I carried two items of non-regulation equipment: a pen and a notebook. As I stood out in the still night air guarding an entrance to a training site that no one could find even if they had a reason to, I penned a short letter to my congressman telling him of John Michael’s problem.

Two weeks passed before the storm broke. It was then that I found myself standing, heels locked, in front of Captain Perkins’ desk as he ranted and roared and waved a sheaf of papers in the air. The papers, at least a solid inch of them, were a Congressional Inquiry plus endorsements. Perkins explained that in very clear terms. When a congressman gets a letter from an unhappy soldier, he sends a note over to the Secretary of the Army asking him to find out about the problem. The Secretary adds a letter to the congressman’s and puts it into military channels. Each lesser dog adds his own note of inquiry until the whole bundle lands on the littlest dog’s desk – Captain Perkins’.

That is where I came in. Captain Perkins was furious, so pissed that I expected to see urine trickling out of his ears. He kept me standing at attention for over thirty minutes as he preached and roared chain-of-command. He told me that I should always go to my squad leader first with problems. (My squad leader is a twenty-two year-old doper named Bartman, who makes a fine living selling Kansas's most valuable illegal crop, but that’s a whole other tale.) If Bartman couldn’t help me I should go to my platoon sergeant or platoon leader, and if they couldn’t fix things I could always come see him or Top. He finally let me go. I had smartened up enough not to mention the fact that I had come to him with the problem before I wrote to my congressman.

I closed his office door and was making my way out of the orderly room when I heard his final verbal explosion: “Fucking gonad!” The company clerk blew coffee out of his nose, and Top did a quick one-eighty in his chair in order to avoid looking at me – but I could still see his shoulders bouncing involuntarily as he silently laughed. “Shit,” I thought. “That’s how nicknames get started!”

I hit every duty roster that was posted for the next few weeks. Weekends were especially bad. A typical weekend found me pulling K.P. on Friday and guard duty on Saturday. By the time I got off on Sunday morning I was too tired to do anything but crash. It was during that time that John Michael and I did manage to get one free afternoon to go into Junction City, but I’ve already explained how we wasted that opportunity.

We needed a weekend off, needed it bad. John Michael needed a weekend to find Silky and kill her. Raul and I need a weekend to get laid. Not just laid, but laid, and laid, and laid. Raul liked to entertain us with stories of what he was going to do to the females of Junction City. He would lay on his bunk in the evenings and start up a conversation with something like, “Hey, niggers. Let me tell you what I’m going to do to the first…” and he would go on and on. Sometimes Raul would describe, in great detail, how he was going to do his first eight or ten women. Raul has a good imagination. He never repeated a plot.

Payday fell two weeks after John Michael bought his blade. Pay call was Friday morning, and that same afternoon we found out that the three of us, Raul, John Michael, and me, each had weekend passes. Time and money is a dangerous combination, at least it turned out to be dangerous as far as I was concerned.

I can hold my liquor. Well, I could until that Friday night in Junction City. At five that evening we stepped into our first bar. There are, I should point out, more that just a few bars in Junction City. Fungus towns like Junction City grow up around most military bases. They thrive on money spent in bars, pawnshops, used car lots, tattoo parlors, motels that don’t ask questions, and police court. Junction City and all of the other military towns are great places for thirsty and horny soldiers to spend a month’s pay in just a few hours. It was our kind of town!

We had started at one end of the main drag with every intention of working our way through to the other. The first saloon didn’t take long to cross off the list. A couple of skags at the bar watched us down our first round. One had short, greasy hair, buck teen, and smelled bad. The other was obviously her grandmother from the ugly side of the family. It would be impossible to get drunk enough to take them on. We finished our beer and left.

It took several more stops before the women got to looking better. John Michael asked about Silky at every bar, but he was having no luck in finding her. Raul and I concentrated on the women who were there. For the price of a beer you could have a dance and some friendly conversation.

We were at a place called “The Sultan’s Palace” at about eleven o’clock when I developed my first strong craving of the evening. I was leaning on the jukebox looking for a song whose title I couldn’t remember when a voice behind me asked, “Buy a girl a drink, soldier?” I turned around and saw a beautiful oriental creature smiling at me. True, she was probably closer to Mama’s age than to mine, but I wanted her anyway. I wanted her bad!

“Sure,” I stammered. “I’ll get you a drink.”

“Good.” She motioned to a waitress and two beers were delivered to the closest table. The Oriental lady took my hand and led me to the table. “Been here long?” She asked, after we were seated.

“A couple of months.” I stared at her beautiful face which was set off by a beautiful smile. She was intoxicating! “But I’m getting ready to leave for Nam.” I added, hoping to make myself seem more important.

“Nam?” She laughed. “You’d better hurry. The war is almost over.”

Well, I guess that there are times when listening to the evening news would be beneficial. But I think quickly when I’d drinking, so I didn’t let the conversation lag. “Yeah, I know it looks that way, but I’m involved in something very hush-hush, and we’re fixing to drive those commie bastards right out of your homeland and into the ocean!”

“I’m Thai. I’ve never even been to Vietnam.” She laughed again, but she wasn’t making fun of me. It just meant that she was enjoying my story. I laughed too.

Raul found a girl at this place who offered to take him upstairs and show him her aquarium for forty dollars. Susie Wong hit me for her third beer when Raul and his friend left, and Susie hadn’t even mentioned her aquarium yet. These girls work for the bar and themselves. Beers at these places are a buck or a buck-fifty for a little seven ounce bottle. A good bar girl will get you to buy her several and try not to take a drink out of any of them. I had my eye on Susie. She was at least drinking her beer.

John Michael was sitting across the room in a booth talking to Bro Somebody trying to get a lead on Silky. I figured that finding Silky in this town was going to be more complicated than finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.

I had just finished annihilating the Viet Cong for the third or fourth time when Susie brought up the subject of her fifty dollar aquarium. She put my arm around her shoulder and we headed for the stairs. I remember looking up that endless flight of stairs and wondering if her aquarium was worth the climb. I never found out.

John Michael was up and racing for the door. “That bitch! That bitch! I’ll kill that bitch!” The next thing I knew I was running like hell chasing him and Bro Somebody through the alleys and side streets of Junction City. John Michael thought that he had seen Silky being driven by the bar. We never did catch the car to find out if it was her or not.

It’s dangerous to go in and out of too many bars in Junction City. The police have a squeeze play that they are famous for, and they are usually out practicing it in full force on payday. It’s a simple scam. As a guy leaves a bar he is arrested – before he can get to his car, before he can get to the bus stop, before he can even call for a cop. He’s charged with being drunk in public and escorted to the city jail. This usually goes on until the jail is full, and by full I mean standing-room-only. The next morning each offender is found guilty by the Police Judge and sentenced to pay fine of fifty dollars (more if he complains) or spend three days in jail (and a week for complainers). A soldier can't spend three days in jail or he will be AWOL, so he has to cough up the fifty dollars. Each victim of this scam returns to base poorer, yet wiser. I’ve heard that property taxes are obscenely low in Junction City!

We weren’t caught in the squeeze play, but we should have been. We hit several more places where the notorious Silky, John Michael’s blushing bride, was supposed to be. Fortunately for her and us she was unavailable that night. I found a woman later that I wished would have been unavailable, too.

I was asleep sitting up. I mean, I knew that I was sleeping and I knew that I was sitting up. My face was on something cold and hard, and someone was pulling at my arm urging me to wake up.

“Wake up, honey,” the voice urged. “Come on now. The man is trying to close.”

My head hurt. Goddamn did my head hurt! I slowly pulled my face from the cold bar and began to look around the nearly empty barroom. The first thing I saw was my own face staring back at me from the long mirror behind the bar. There were happier looking mugs in the morgue – lots of them! The large Coors clock above the mirror told me that it was one-thirty. I assumed that it was Saturday a.m. In fact, I had to assume that I was still in Junction City, but I sure as hell didn’t have any way to know that for a fact.

“Honey, are you all right?”

I turned and saw a beautiful black woman sitting on the stool next to me. It took a few seconds to focus, but the events of the last couple of stops started coming back to me.

“Cleopatra.” I said.

“That’s right, honey. You’ve been out for a long time.”

I looked at the rest of the bar. We were alone except for the man who was busy closing up. He was leaning down placing bottles under the bar, but even from that view of him I could tell that he was very tall, even for a black man. He stood and walked toward us. The neon blue pants that he was wearing made him look even taller.

“Is he all right, Cleo?”

“Yeah, Eddie, he’s fine. How about a couple for the road?”

Eddie opened two bottles of Coors and sat them on the counter. He reached in his pocket and fished out something small that he handed to Cleopatra. She took the two beers, the item that Eddie had given her, and me, and headed for the door.

Once outside, the cool night air hit me and I began to stagger. Cleopatra quickly directed me off of the street and into an alley. The reason for that, I figured out later, was that I was a prize catch and she sure as hell wasn’t going to share me with the cops.

“Where are we going?” I’m not sure why I asked, because I really didn’t think it was important at the time.

“My place, honey.”

“Where did my buddies go?

“The good looking one went home with my cousin, and the fool with the knife probably got lost in the men’s room.”

We rounded a corner and then she led me up an old fashioned fire escape to an apartment. “Is this Eddie’s place?” I asked as she let me in.

“No, honey, it’s mine. Put your bones over on the couch while I fix our drinks.” She left and went into what I supposed was the kitchen, and I put myself down where she had pointed.

“Kick your shoes off, honey.” I heard her call from the kitchen.

I did kick one shoe off and I started to do the other one, but a wild thought raced into my head and stopped me. It seemed like I had bragged to Cleopatra earlier that evening about hiding most of my pay in my sock so that I wouldn’t lose it if I got rolled. “No,” I thought. “Shit, I couldn’t get drunk enough to do something that stupid!” But still I could hear myself telling her that, and I could hear her laughing and saying, “You’re a smart one all right, honey.” I bent over and put both shoes back on. I tied them with double square knots. Better safe than sorry, I thought.

Cleopatra came back into the room carrying the two beers in glasses on a tray. Her blouse was unbuttoned far enough to invite a view while she stood, but as she leaned over to sit the tray on the table in front of me, it commanded a view. I was had.

Cleopatra sat next to me and handed me one of the long, cool glasses. I took a sip and began to look around her apartment nervously. It was decorated in an erotic mixture of reds, purples, and glitter. There were several paintings on the walls, and they all made me think of sex. But the gaudy surroundings could not hold my attention. Cleopatra had her right arm draped over my shoulders allowing her hand to play across my shaved head. Her left hand was finding its way down the buttons of my shirt. I turned to look at her.

“Do you like my place, honey?”

“It looks like…” I stopped as I felt her hand slide into my shirt and around my waist.

“Yes?” she prompted. Cleopatra laughed a little, probably because she could tell that I was nervous.

“It looks like a whorehouse.” I blurted. “I mean it looks like a whorehouse should look. I mean, but…it’s an apartment so it isn’t a whorehouse. Shit, I don’t know what I mean.”

She laughed until, I swear, I could see real, honest-to-God tears running down the sides of her face. When she quit, she squeezed me hard and said, “You simple, honey. Think of this as a whore apartment, okay?”

“Okay.” I smiled. She really could make a guy feel at ease.

“Now drink your beer, honey, and I’ll show you my big, soft bed.

I finished my brew in a couple of long swallows. Cleopatra smiled, gave me a long kiss, and stood up and led me to her bedroom, a room that looked even more like a room in a whorehouse should look – not that I’ve seen that many, or any for that matter. The walls were covered with silhouettes of couples doing all sorts of contortions. A thick red carpet covered the floor, and a full-length mirror decorated the ceiling above the huge bed.

“I guess this isn’t Eddie’s place.” I said as Cleopatra threw my shirt in a corner and began to work on my pants.

“What made you think that it was? She asked, dropping to her knees to free my legs from the legs of my pants. She was having trouble getting the pants over the shoes which wouldn’t come off because of the double square knots.

“I thought I saw him give you a key at the bar.”

Down went the shorts.

“No, honey, that was no key. Now lay down over here.”

I leaned backward and fell onto the plush bed. I was naked except for the shoes and socks that still clung defiantly to my feet. Cleopatra had removed her blouse and I was watching her round, beautiful globes sway in the soft light of the bedroom.

Cleopatra was naked now, too. She was standing at the foot of the bed, and I suddenly realized that she was holding a knife. I thought about trying to cover my manhood with my hands. In fact, that was all I could think about, but my hands wouldn’t work. “Oh God,” I stammered, “Don’t cut it off! I’ve never even got to use it yet!”

Cleopatra was laughing hysterically as she used her knife to make quick work of the big knots in my shoe laces. She was just after my money, and my dick could rest to rise another day! Who would have thought that being robbed could be such a relief?

When my heart quit racing and Cleopatra had claimed to the remainder of my pay, I refocused on what Eddie had passed to her. “What did Eddie give to you then, if it wasn’t a key?”

Cleopatra sat on the bed next to me. “It was just some medicine to help your head.”

“I don’t need any medicine.”

“You’ve already had it, honey. It was in your beer.”

And then the lights went out. I vaguely remember being carried down a flight of stairs, upside down, and throwing up on some neon blue pants. The next thing I remember for sure was some hellacious thunder and two young M.P.’s, a tall one and a short one, smiling down at me under the midday sun. I was naked and folded into a garbage can with my bare feet sticking out. The thunder was one of them beating on the can with his nightstick.

“You must be Gonad,” the tall one said. “We’ve been looking for you everywhere.”

“Captain Perkins has a suite reserved for you at the stockade,” the short one laughed. “Nothing but the best for his troops!”

It looked like my weekend pass was over. That was just as well - I was broke anyway!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Jan Brewer's Nazi Money

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Arizona has a new law on the books that will go into effect at the end of this month. The racist screed known as SB 1070 is already being attacked in Court. Instead of relying on state legal experts and state funds to defend this affront to civilized society, our governor has inexplicably hired private lawyers to defend the legislation, and she is paying for their services through Internet begging.

Earlier this week the editorial board of the Arizona Republic, the state's largest newspaper, had the governor in for a visit. They wanted to be certain that she understood that much of the money coming into the SB 1070 defense fund was being generated by hate sites on the Internet. Our gutless leader apparently mouthed her disapproval of donations by bigots and lamented that if she just knew who they were, the money could be returned.

And then she smiled all the way back to the Capitol.

Hate groups like (a well known neo-Nazi watering hole) are openly and vigorously encouraging their followers to donate to Brewer's legal slush fund. The problem is that there is no information required with the money that comes in from these sources. If a person makes a political donation to a candidate over the Internet, quite a bit of information is collected along with the cash. That is not happening in this case.

Another scary group that is ginning up support for the SB 1070 defense fund is America's Third Position (A3P), a group that describes itself as existing "to represent the political interests of White Americans." A3P brags: "We support all constructive endeavors by private citizens, businesses, local governments - or in this case a sovereign state - to stem and reverse the browning of America." A3P said on it's website today that it has forwarded a three-figure donation to the SB 1070 fund. Three whole figures - wow!

Decent people would return the A3P donation - all three figures of it!

So the Sand Hag is mystified again. Are racists really donating to her special fund?Just because the money is being used to defend the legislative centerpiece of her brief governorship, a bill so blatantly racist that even many Republicans are embarrassed by it, does that necessarily mean that it is stirring cash from cretins?

Yes, of course it does. SB 1070 is the high water mark for racism in America since the good old days when George Wallace was running for President and Bull Connor was busting heads in Alabama. These people are coming to the fore and enjoying every second of the teabuggery attention. They are sending money - and Jan Brewer knows it - and she is glad to get it!

There is nothing mystifying about how this works. Arizona passed a shameful racist law that is an embarrassment to good people everywhere. Jan Brewer is running for her first full term as governor of Arizona, and she is pandering to the state's vocal and highly racist riffraff in order to gain their votes. Brewer's defense fund generates a good deal of publicity on its own, and the proceeds will ensure that high-priced lawyers will be able to march into court and defend the state's indefensible law.

Everybody wins. Jan gets the votes, the lawyers get the money, the evil law has its day in court, and the crazies who salivate over the and America's Third Position websites get the sexual high of knowing that they gave money to deny rights to racial minorities.

Well, not everybody wins. The good people who are being victimized by this angry mob mentality are leaving. There are better jobs in other states, and better weather. They are going, and in their wake will remain the nativist sandbillies and scorpion-milkers who will have to learn to clean their own toilets, trim their own trees, and pay their own sales taxes.

America has come so far with regard to human rights over the past half-century. Do we really want to throw all of that away and return to an age of ignorance?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Witch Hunt is On!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Arizona's rampant stupidity and bigotry are quickly spreading to some of the other more backward regions of the nation, like so much intestinal cancer. Today there was a report out of Utah about a mysterious list of 1,300 individuals from that state who may or may not be undocumented workers. The list was sent out to reporters, state officials, and Utah politicians along with a demand that something be done about these purported illegal aliens. The list is spreading rapidly.

So what is on this list?

The confidential information includes 1,300 names along with Social Security numbers, birth dates, workplaces, addresses, and phone numbers. It also contains the names of children in each family and due dates of pregnant women on the list. It is not the type of information that should be common knowledge, and it should definitely not be provided to teabagger imbeciles who run around with guns and think they have some Christian obligation to kill minorities.

Obviously the information came from state databases and was released by one or more disgruntled state employees. Intentionally releasing a public record is a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine. If it happened to be a protected record, the fine jumps to $5,000 with possibly five years in prison. But, hey, is there any price too great for having the privilege of doing God's work?

Remember this, you doofus hillbillies: those same government flunkies could just as easily have released your confidential information! (And you all know how much you distrust the government anyway!) Maybe the next list to be mysteriously released will contain names of individuals who contribute money to hate groups, or don't pay their child support, - or a list of suspected gun owners. That would make for interesting reading, wouldn't it?

The most shocking thing about the story out of Utah is that it didn't happen in Arizona first. Clearly, our bigots must be slacking off!

The witch hunt is on! Joe McCarthy would be so proud!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Barefoot Bandit

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Nineteen-year-old Colton Harris-Moore, the “barefoot bandit”, has been captured, and we are all a little poorer for his apprehension. Harris-Moore, a very resourceful thief with a sharp mind and a sterling sense of the theatrical, has been on the lam since fleeing a three-year sentence in a half-way house for troubled teens over two years ago.

Colton grew up in a dysfunctional family on Camano Island, Washington. He had a history with Child Protective Services due to drug usage in the home and neglect by his parents. By the age of seven he was living on-and-off in the wild where he met his basic needs (food, water, blankets, clothing) through petty thievery. His first conviction for stolen property occurred when he was twelve, and by the time he was thirteen he had racked up a total of four convictions for stealing.

Since fleeing the halfway house in Washington two years ago, Colton has become infamous through his daredevil thievery and outlandish showmanship. He is suspected to taking bicycles, automobiles, speedboats, and light aircraft in his efforts to remain free of the system. The young man, who may have stolen a total of five or more airplanes, reportedly taught himself to fly by reading aircraft manuals and playing flight-simulator games on the computer. His last flight was from the state of Indiana to the Bahamas!

And like any great artist, he signed his work – by leaving bold sets of intentional fingerprints, or by taking pictures of himself inside of the burgled homes with the victims’ own cameras. Colton Harris-Moore was his own brand, a brand that he vigorously and unabashedly promoted. He was the barefoot bandit, and he was proud of it!

When the resourceful lad couldn’t find what he needed in other people’s homes or offices, he would order it off the Internet using his victims’ credit cards!

Although Colton Harris-Moore became a legend in the American northwest and has a Facebook fan page listing over 80,000 supporters, he really doesn’t fit the Robin Hood mold. His main impetus in stealing was for his own self-preservation, although as recently as April of this year he left a hundred dollars in a veterinarian’s office for the care of animals – a good deed with someone else’s money.

The thing that made young Colton so popular was his constant ability to stick it to the man – that and the fact that he was an “outlaw.” America loves her outlaws – always has and always will! By the time he was finally caught in the Bahamas earlier this week, he had outsmarted police from across the United States and had caused a frustrated FBI to post a $10,000 reward for his capture.

So now he is behind bars, albeit in the paradise of the Bahamas. Efforts are underway to bring him back to the United States so that a bunch of legal jurisdictions can all get their pound of flesh. This criminal never hurt anyone, but he did take things that belonged to others. Property is, and always has been, the primary focus of law in America. The law has far more interest in protecting property than it does in protecting the rights and safety of individuals.

If the law would have been interested in protecting Colton Harris-Moore, his parents would have been jailed back at a time when it could have still done some good. Now the son is in jail and mom is out free working on a movie deal, or a reality show, or some other way of reimbursing herself for all of the love and attention that she imagines she poured into this child over the years. Hell, she should still be jailed!

Stay in the Bahamas, Colton. (The weather around Seattle is crappy anyway.) Fight extradition. Write your memoirs and make your own movie deal. You have spent most of your short life operating on your own terms, and those of us who are “aghast” at your criminal behavior are actually quite envious. We have been pulling at the oars in the slave galley while you were literally soaring with the eagles – in our boss’s planes.

Keep soaring, or sailing, or swimming, or sunning! Society has never done you any favors, and that is not going to change. But when the party ends, and it will end, why not use your intelligence and your celebrity to focus on exposing and correcting the ways that we tend to treat the children of America’s great underclass? There is so much good that you could do to ease the plight of kids who are literally invisible until they are forced by neglect and poverty to start messing with the property of their betters.

The way we treat poor children in this country is an outrage. Help us to see those kids and feel that outrage.

Colton Harris-Moore, you are the man – and this is your moment. Use it wisely!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Skype Fever

by Pa Rock
Technically Deficient Communicator

I have been sitting by the computer for a hour waiting on Molly to contact me via Skype. Nothing has happened, so I called her, and they don't seem to be having any luck at making it work. Then I tried contacting Tim and the other two or three people on my Skype list. I may have succeeded in sending a voice mail to Tim, but am not sure at this point.

This has been a drill of sorts, because Tim thinks that I need to hone my Skype skills before heading overseas - and obviously he is right!

I did get to speak to my three-year-old grandson, Sebastian, by regular phone tonight. He had his first day of preschool this morning and told me all about coloring a picture of Clifford the Big Red Dog. Molly also emailed a picture of Sebastian and his picture of Clifford - and that danged dog is indeed red!

Sebastian said that he wanted to come to my house. (I wish that he could!) I told him that I live in Phoenix and that it is hot in Phoenix. He repeated "Phoenix" loudly, because it is a word that he knows. "Phoenix" is his middle name! (Molly related while I was in Oregon that he used to refer to himself as "Sebastian Kleenex Files!")

I may have to get a twelve-year-old to stop by and teach me how to Skype. Hopefully there will be one living close by on Okinawa that can act as my technical advisor!

Skype Update: Tim and I just had a couple of video conversations courtesy of Skype. I am smarter now, but still noticeably techno-deficient!

And now I have also had a long Skype conversation with Molly and Scott and their boys. Sebastian had LOTS to say, and they got to see my cat! The cat did not care for being Skyped!

So, the long and the short of it is that I now know how to Skype. I couldn't get the little robot camera to work, but the one that is part of my computer did just fine. I think that I will be able to make this video communication work from overseas!

Ain't progress grand!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Arizona Mean

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

There are different types of politicians, at least in most places. Many states have a mixture of good guys, crooks, and crackpots. There is even a smattering of politicians in this country who run for office to serve others as opposed to serving themselves and their bank accounts.

But politics in Arizona is more one-dimensional than that.

If there is a common denominator for Arizona politicians, by and large it is meanness. Joe Arpaio, for instance calls a news conference every time he thinks of something else to deny the inmates in his canvas gulag. Arizona voters love crap like that and praise Jesus, (er, uh ... Joe), for being the "toughest sheriff" in America. Just don't ask him about the inmate deaths that have occurred on his watch. Joe doesn't like to be bothered with details.

And, of course, Jan Brewer, our joke of a governor, has used her high school education to come up with a campaign strategy that revolves around demonizing Latinos/Hispanics to the point that some might believe Arizona is far more dangerous than Iraq or Afghanistan. She generates the notion that anyone who happens to have been born brown or with a funny last name is an enemy of democracy, motherhood, and all gun-toting, god-loving, white Americans with proper British surnames. Jan has also spread accounts of massive kidnappings of Arizonans by drug cartels and multitudes of decapitated bodies littering the Sonora Desert. Both of those allegations are absolute falsehoods, and the Sand Hag knows it!

There is also Russell Pearce, a state senator who associates with a known neo-nazi and writes hate legislation with such speed and vehemence that his crayons often overheat.

Or how about our state superintendent of instruction, a career politician named Tom Horne? The loquacious Mr. Horne, a candidate for state attorney general, brags about ending ethnic studies and banning bilingual education in Arizona schools - seriously - like that's something to brag about! It will take a generation to correct the damage that he has done to Arizona education, if the people here even wanted to correct it!

Then there is always crabby-assed John McCain who pisses and moans about everything!

But as of today, Arizona has a new king of mean. Our 'other' United States Senator, Jon Kyl, has inexplicably come out in favor of extending Bush era tax cuts for the super wealthy, while ending unemployment insurance for the poor. I guess that fairly well encapsulates what people here feel that government should be doing, protecting the rich and kicking the hell out of the poor.

Nice work, Senator Kyl. You are one mean bastard!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Eclipse: Painful to Watch

by Pa Rock
Film Critic

I love going to movies. I especially love going to movies in the Valley of Hell during the summer months because it is so nice to sit in a dark, cool, theatre for a couple of hours - even for a movie that may somewhat less than Academy Award material. But after seeing Eclipse this morning, the current installment of the Twilight saga, I can honestly say that my time would have been better spent sitting out on the curb, in the Arizona heat, than suffering through this dog of a movie. Bring on the freakin' heat!

Where to begin?

The plot (if you can call it that) was damned near incomprehensible. It was the sad result of poor writing being over-layed with abominable direction. Bella (Kristen Stewart), the focal character, is a senior in high school who plans to give up life as a human after graduation and become a vampire like her boyfriend, Edward (Robert Pattinson). But she is also being pursued by a handsome American Indian, Jacob (Taylor Lautner) who just happens to belong to a tribe of werewolves - mortal enemies of the vampire and his "family."

There is lots of room in this movie for some really great triangular tension with an exploration of strife between species - but director David Slade seems hellbent on missing anything that would even remotely explain the need to put this mishmash of crap on the screen.

The conflict in Eclipse was murky and confusing. Edward and Jacob both want Bella, of course, but it never becomes clear why she chooses the vampire over the werewolf. There is also a battle with the "newborns," recently bitten baby vampires, which is heavy on action and light on resolution. At the end of the epic battle, it remains unclear as to what happened.

There were two funny lines in Eclipse, and both could have been - and possibly were - written by junior high school students. Jacob, the Indian/werewolf, is clothing-challenged and only dons a shirt once in the movie - and then briefly. When Edward and Bella suddenly come upon the bare-chested Jacob, Edward asks her, rather nonchantly, "Doesn't he even own a shirt?" Yuk, yuk.

The second humor line comes when Edward and Bella are camped in the mountains hiding from the newborns. It is snowing and bitterly cold. Bella is wrapped in a sleeping bag literally freezing to death, and Edward can't help because he lacks body warmth. At that point Jacob enters their tent, shirtless of course, and crawls into the sleeping bag with Bella - telling Edward, "I'm hotter than you." Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

If movies were animals, Eclipse would be a big, old, three-legged, mangy dog! Get thee to the pound!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Give It a Rest, Barney!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Barney Frank, a democrat and the senior member of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, has formed an alliance with Libertarian Congressman Ron Paul of Texas in an ill-fated attempt to cut military spending by twenty-five percent. Of course, Mr. Frank, like all other members of Congress, has no interest in cutting military funds that are creating jobs in his district.

It is a given that military contractors are slime. They insure the success of their sales by sliding jobs into as many congressional districts as possible, making it impossible for congressmen to vote against worthless pork barrel projects because to do so would eliminate jobs in their own districts. The Pentagon goes to Congress asking that specific arms programs be dropped from the budget, and Congress routinely refuses to cancel those programs - programs that the military doesn't want!

As an example, Congressman Frank supports having fewer F-35 Joint Strike Fighter planes, but also supports a $3 billion backup engine project for those same fighter planes. The Pentagon does not want those back-up engines - engines that create jobs in Congressman Frank's district. Frank told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann that he actually wants to cut the entire F-35 program, but as long as military spending continues he will fight for his district's share of it.

It's personal, so it stays.

But Congressman Frank's hypocrisy aside, the one thing that comes up in all of his interviews is the need to remove troops from Okinawa. Indeed, pulling the troops out of Okinawa seems to be the be-all and end-all of Congressman Frank's plan to pare Pentagon spending. Apparently that move would save big bucks while not affecting spending in many congressional districts.

But removing the troops from Okinawa is also personal - to me! However, I will admit to not being worried about my upcoming tour there being abbreviated due to a reduction in military spending. Military spending will be cut significantly sometime after I win Powerball and Mega Millions - on the same night!

Godspeed in your efforts to tame the military budget, Barney, but know this: the beast will not be brought under fiscal control as long as individual members of Congress, yourself included, continue to fight to protect the military-related jobs (pork) in their own districts - and that includes your pork in your district.

If military spending is nothing but a glorified jobs bill, couldn't we be be spending that same money on things that actually would provide for a better future - education, infrastructure, and clean energy? That would be real security!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Trigger on the Auction Block

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Christie's of Manhattan is preparing to auction off a significant piece of my childhood. When Roy Rogers' famous Palomino, Trigger, died in 1965, the cowboy actor had him stuffed. Trigger subsequently spent more years entertaining tourists while dead than he ever did while alive. Roy and Dale had him on display at a gift shop at their ranch in California, and after the death of the cowboy couple, he was moved to the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in Branson, Missouri. Now that the museum has closed, enter Christie's.

The world famous auction house estimates that they will be able to peddle the horse carcass for somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000 when he goes on the block nest week. From there it will probably only be a matter of weeks until he is hauled out into America and becomes another roadside attraction. My guess is that Trigger will probably wind up in Arizona where a dead horse would undoubtedly qualify as high art.

Roy preceded Dale in death. If Trigger brings in $200,000, the estate could have probably pulled in a cool million for Roy. What was Dale thinking?

But more importantly, where is Gabby Hayes? Inquiring minds want to know!

Midnight, Before and After

by Rocky Macy

Midnight, Before and After


shades slipping
through twilight
roam the river’s rim
catching the cricket cacophony
the death of daylight

drab and droll
the willful waters wend
toward tomorrow
where a seething sun
will ignite Icarus


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Arizonans: Proud to be Stupid!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig may not be bending to the pressure to move the 2011 All-Star Game out of Arizona, but he damn well knows the pressure is there! Today there was a protest outside of the headquarters of Major League Baseball in New York City. The protests are becoming part and parcel of Selig's world.

The protests, of course, are a result of Arizona's latest piece of racist legislation, the "papers please" law, SB 1070, that targets Hispanics for racial profiling by law enforcement officers. Considering that a full quarter of America's major league baseball players are are of Hispanic origin, this is an issue that Selig should not be allowed to blithely ignore. But so far he has.

Baseball has been an important component of American popular culture for over a century. It is Casey at the Bat, Lou Gerhig saying good-bye, Babe Ruth pointing out where he will send the next one one out of the park, and hot dogs and cold beer on summer afternoons.

Baseball is too American to allow itself to be used by the fascists of the Fourth Reich as some sort of affirmation that Arizona isn't as bad many believe it to be. The citizens of Arizona, by and large, are proud to be stupid. They will not change until change is forced upon them. Selig needs to stand up for racial equality and decency in America by moving the 2011 All-Star game out of Arizona.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sue the Racist Bastards!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

President Obama announced yesterday that his Justice Department will file suit in Federal Court in an attempt to keep Arizona's racist SB 1070 from going into effect at the end of this month. The local Republicans and Teabaggers, of course, are having a field day with that news. It is, after all, a conservative wet dream that the "gummint" is coming to take their guns away or protecting wetbacks - never mind that most of the lazy assholes don't work and can't afford ammo to fire their phallic substitutes anyway!

Old Joke Arpaio, the "shurf" of Maricopa County, is not too concerned about this coming lawsuit. He has already been enforcing SB 1070 for years, and lawsuits have a history of fueling his foolishness. The law in Maricopa County is what the shurf says it is, and the sooner the United States Department of Justice and all of them damned federal judges learn that, the more effective he can be at protecting the Valley of Hell from all of those undocumented dishwashers and maids.

Jan Brewer, Tom Horne, J.D. Hayworth, John McCain, and the entire Republican Congressional delegation are drumming up fear for purely political purposes. Brewer is talking about legions of drug runners racing across the border, guns blazing, and decapitated bodies littering the desert in southern Arizona. Sure, it's all lies, but it's lies that these sand goobers long to hear. They need to feel justified in their bigotry and racism.

The only way this craziness will end is if the state of Arizona succeeds in making itself such a laughingstock that decent people choose to spend their conference and vacation dollars elsewhere. Boycott Arizona!

Let me say that louder: BOYCOTT ARIZONA! Show these sand rats that their choice to be mean, stupid, and hateful comes with a price!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

TSA in a Turban!

by Pa Rock
Rejuvenated Traveler

Teabaggers beware! One of the first things that come into view at the Alaskan Airlines terminal in the Portland (Oregon) Airport is a dark skinned fellow in bright blue TSA uniform wearing a turban. You had best be looking for alternative travel routes, because these are definitely not your type of people!

The Portland Airport is cool beyond measure. I made it through the check-in screening in a matter of minutes with absolutely no hassles. I noticed a screener place a half-empty bottle of water in a plastic tub, run it through x-ray, and give it back to the thirsty traveler on the other side. That act of kindness would have drawn gunfire at Kansas City International - the world's crabbiest airport!

It was hard saying goodbye to Molly and her family in Salem this morning. Each time I say goodbye to anyone important in my life, I get these dark, brooding thoughts about how life can and does make abrupt changes without warning.

Yesterday afternoon we received word that Ed Shields had been killed in a car wreck. Ed was about thirty-six-years-old. He was a childhood friend - and later a roommate - of my oldest son, Nick. I wrote about Ed's brother, Josh, a few weeks ago in this space after I met up with him in Phoenix and gave him a painting that their grandfather, Johnny Spade, had done decades ago. Ed apparently had several children. My heart goes out to his family.

Today another sad piece of news surfaced with an email from my good friend, Brenda Kilby, of McDonald County, Missouri. Brenda related that her younger sister, Charlcie (age 51) had died from pneumonia quite suddenly this morning in Houston, Texas. She also had children.

Life comes, and life surely goes. Often we do not have a clue as to when our time will be up, but it does end. Everything changes and everything ends. That is why we need to squeeze every ounce of life out of every day, live without regrets, and take care of each other.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Sebastian's Big Day

by Pa Rock
Proud Grampa

Sebastian's third birthday has come and gone, washed along in a tidal wave of cake, ice cream, and presents. Not surprisingly, it didn't take him long to get to sleep tonight!

The birthday boy and I stayed home this morning while his parents took little Judah in for his regular doctor's appointment. We watched Wall-E as he ate his oatmeal and Pa Rock copied music to his iTunes folder. We both enjoyed the movie, and Sebastian gave expository remarks as necessary!

Sebastian has a swing set in the back yard. I had a nice time this afternoon watching as he went up and down the slide while his Dad patiently supervised the activity. Scott and Molly are both really good parents - lots of energy and love for their children.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Some More Oregon Stuff

by Pa Rock
Road Warrior

Oregon has a few things going for it besides the awesome scenery. The state began buying back all of its oceanfront property a couple of decades ago, thus bringing all of the beaches and shoreline into the public domain. People who had oceanfront property before the law went into effect could keep it for life, but it wasn't transferable to their heirs upon death. They also had the option of selling - to the state. Wouldn't the teabaggers love that!

The state of Oregon has no sales tax. They fund government through property taxes (which is much more equitable than regressive sales tax), income tax, and sales of lottery tickets. So even though the state still sticks it to the poor with lottery sales, the poor don't have to pony up a significant portion of their limited incomes on sales tax for groceries, pharmaceuticals, or daily necessities. (Arizona couldn't make it through the weekend without picking the pockets of the poor through sales taxes!)

Oregon does permit green funerals, real green funerals that are more environmentally friendly and don't don't transfer so much of the deceased's estate to the maggot funeral directors. (A funeral director in rural Missouri told me a few months ago that green funerals are not any less expensive than regular ones. He's a liar.)

Customers do not pump their own gas in Oregon. That crafty law did something very significant for the state's economy - it gave jobs to thousands of people. As a former paid gas-pumper from several decades ago, I like that law a lot. The people who pump the gas often wash windshields, for which a tip is appreciated. The lady who filled my tank this morning was very fast, running between several cars in order to give prompt, yet courteous, service. She also found time for some friendly chatter and help with directions.

All of that is not to say that this state is nirvana. Poverty is apparent in certain areas, and there are also derelicts in semi-abundance. But it is nice to know that even with many of the problems experienced by other states, Oregonians have kept they focus on the future and have not sought refuge in the greed and hate-mongering that have infected other states - Arizona, I'm talking about you!

An Afternoon with Grandsons

by Pa Rock
Proud Grandfather

I got to Scott and Molly's house before noon today following a leisurely drive up from Medford. The mountains and forests of southern Oregon are awesome. Salem and the northwest portion of the state are more similar to the Ozarks, but with more evergreens. Salem, Oregon's capital - where Molly and Scott live, is not too dissimilar to Jefferson City - the capital of Missouri. Lots of hills and curving roads. Neither city is that big, but I remember being lost in Jefferson City for over an hour late one night while trying to find a friend's house.

I was so lost that I couldn't even find the public housing where Bob and Lori Holden lived!

Sebastian is one of the busiest children that I have ever encountered. He will be three tomorrow. I brought him some small wooden cars from Phoenix that seem to have made a hit with him. His little brother, Judah, is a very happy child, constantly giving big smiles and gooing contentedly.

Scott's parents, Alvin and Susan Files, are also here for tomorrow's big birthday party. They are such nice people. Susan retired from teaching this past May, and they are talking about moving out here to Oregon to be closer to Scott and Molly and their boys. I hope that works out for them. Judah is seven months old, and when he starts walking, keeping up with both of them at once will be a challenge for multiple grown-ups!

It looks like my Dad's pickup will enjoy being in Oregon - lots of shade and cooler temperatures (by far) than it experienced in the Valley of Hell.

Tonight we are going to watch the fireworks display over the river.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Welcome to Weed!

by Pa Rock
Weary Road Warrior

I put over six hundred miles on the old red pick-up today. The drive took me through a long portion of California's beautiful and rich central valley. It would appear much of what goes on the shelves of America's grocery stores has its start in this very fertile region. I wonder who picks all of that produce?

I was impressed with Sacramento. The city had it all - skyscrapers, beautiful landscaping, and a healthy river coursing through its center. It was just north of Sacramento where the very last palm trees waved me northward.

Political signs were sparse in central and northern California. One car passed me with a Boxer 2010 bumper sticker, a sentiment with which I agree, and there were several large, professionally painted signs dispersed in the groves and vineyards blaming Congress for a lack of water. Strange, though, because I didn't see any dead trees of grape vines.

Northern California is mountainous and beautiful, with the central focus being Mount Shasta and Shasta Lake - postcard views in every direction. I did pass the semi-infamous Jefferson Barn that sits along Interstate 5 close to the Oregon border. The barn, actually a shelter for hay, has an enormous banner on its roof promoting the "State of Jefferson." Some of the locals in this area have been pushing the idea of creating a 51st state - Jefferson - from several of the hilly counties in northern California and southern Oregon.

(Many of the teabagger types and Paultards have a rabid respect for Jefferson because of his statements promoting individual liberties - never mind that he was a slaveholder! In fact, being a slave holder probably just adds to his luster for that group.)

The community of Weed is located in what would be the State of Jefferson - where else would it be? As I was cruising past Weed, I noticed an older married couple taking pictures of each other under the sign proclaiming "Weed City Limits." (Misspent youth, anyone?)

I am in the Medford, Oregon, tonight, and should be at Scott and Molly's house by noon tomorrow. Medford is also located in the State of Jefferson. The evening news featured a story about a teabagger rally that was held this afternoon in Medford's city park. It looked as though twenty-five or thirty individuals showed up - the usual pot-bellied, dentally-challenged morons who seem to be at all teabagger events, any of whom would be right at home in the Arizona legislature. One of the local television stations paid its respects to the group by sending over a young black man to interview the cretins. What a nice touch!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Arizona Border Observations

by Pa Rock
Road Warrior

Crossing the border from Arizona to California is like landing on a whole other planet: the roads are better maintained in California, the rest stops are open, and people don't roar past on motorcycles bearing visible sidearms.

Californians are planning for the future while Arizonans are hopelessly mired in hate. Coming through the mountains fifty miles east of Bakersfield, the mountain tops were suddenly covered with power-producing windmills - thousands of windmills! I have never even seen one in Arizona, and there are areas in the state that are particularly windy. (Anyplace within a mile or two of Joe Arpaio, for instance.) I saw very nice California homes with multiple solar panels on the roofs. In Arizona, where the sun is always bearing down, most of the Home Owner's Associations won't allow solar panels.

And then there's that whole Mexican thing. One of the political commercials that I heard on the radio this afternoon was supporting Republican Meg Whitman in her effort to replace Arnold as governor of the nation's most populous state. The commercial was in Spanish! Arizona's Sand Hag would never stoop to that level. She has this notion that all Hispanics are drug runners or welfare cheats - or both - and she is adamant that they need to learn our "American" language. Here's hoping that all of our brown friends show up at the polls!

I don't subscribe to road rage, but occasionally a long day of driving might result in me becoming somewhat rude under certain circumstances - well, perhaps more than occasionally! This evening when I pulled into a motel outside of Fresno, I noticed that the car just ahead of me had Arizona tags. It was a very white couple who looked old enough to be my grandparents. He greeted me at the sign-in desk with "I see you're from Arizona too." "Yes," I responded, "but I'm not proud of it." That was an effective conversation-ender, but the Hispanic lady running the desk gave me a cute, subversive smile!

Arizona, guard those borders! You don't want anything intelligent slipping in!