Monday, August 30, 2004


8/30/2004EditBlast in the PastGULF NEWSObscene gesture lands drunken man in troubleGulf News reported: An impatient traveller who was late for his flight made an obscene gesture to an airport official - and ended up facing a suspended jail sentence.
Zaytuni reports: TK was on her way to the US because her ex-husband wouldn't sign for her son's passport. The 17 year old slack master quit school, ran away from week in order for him to pay rent to these two recovering alcoholic Lesbians who'd taken him in. The money would last about eight minutes between the three of them--TK's boy and the two members of Sapphos Sluggers. He was calling Mama every night, crying, "Help me, Mama." She was drinking every night, crying, missing her boy, he daughter and unsure of what to do. Finally, TK and Zaytuni got paid and Zaytuni said, "Go get him."

It cost them around three thousand US total to fly her home and for them to bring him back. Each time she went home, she also felt obligated to treat her daughter and her sister to hotels and meals. This continued to run up her credit debt, one of the things she'd hope to resolve by going to the UAE.Zaytuni had a few days off as well. There was no work. The school as closed due to the Islamic New Year, the Al-Hijri, commemorating the first Hadj. He was going to Sri Lanka.

They'd both gone to the local Kon Tiki restaurant and ordered a couple of bowls of booze before their respective flights. The drive to Dubai was about an hour. They usually had a bottle of wine for the drive. There was no time. Zaytuni tried to smuggle two Konanlua type drinks complete with umbrelllas and pineapple, out to car under his shirt. The waiter who had served us came out of the restaurant to stop them (you think California has tough DWI laws) and he ended up having to dive into the bushes lining the fountaining or be run down.

Gulf News Reported: The Dubai Court of Misdemeanours sentenced the zuggly American to a suspended one-month jail sentence to be served within three years if the act is repeated, and a Dh1,000 fine. He was charged with drinking, making an obscene gesture and resisting arrest.Zaytuni Reports: He dropped her off at her Terminal, drove to his and proceeded to the check-in counter one hour and fifteen minutes before take off.

The ticket agent said that the flight had already shut its doors and moved away from the terminal. He said a few words. The middle fingerreaction wasn't overt, and had it been to the Filipina agent, no problem, but the gesture was made to a Muslimess. wasn't overt. Gulf News Reported: He was acquitted of resisting arrest. Zaytuni says

The policen came and cuffed him. As they were walking Zaytuni from the terminal to an airport police station, he adapted the gait of Steppin' fetchin', the shameless 1930s stereotype sub-species negro of thrities comedies (I'se don' know if'n I likes to go back in them there haunted house mr. Hope) He was shuffling along, some might say it was more of a stagger. This sergeant on the beat, a Bruce Van Schwartzenstallone Dubai copper said, "You! Walk faster!" Zaytuni came to a complete stop and said, "Is this fast enough for you?"

Quick cut. He is kssing the the concrete and something heavy, wooden and that really hurt kept hitting his back and legs. His nose was bloodied.The Gulf News Reported: According to court reports, on February 2, the accused reached Dubai International Airport at 2am and was late for his flight. As he reached the first counter, the airport employee asked him to move to the third counter.He moved from behind the desk, a prohibited area, towards the counter and submitted his papers to M.M.R., an Iranian assistant customer services employee, to get his boarding pass, but she told him that the gates had closed.

D.A.O. was outraged and started an argument with her. Finally, he made an obscene gesture at her.Zaytuni Says "Sort of"Gulf News Reported: M.M.R. called the police who came and asked the accused to go with them for questioning, but he tried to get his boarding pass. So one of the officers pushed him and asked him to move faster. He fell on the floor and injured his nose. During questioning, the Zuggly American told the prosecution that he had drunk two cans of beer that night and denied making an obscene gesture.

He claimed that he had been trying to fix his hair. He also claimed that he hadn't resisted but, instead, was going along with them when one of the officers pushed him and he fell on the floor.Zaytuni Says: No. No. No. La, la, la.The Gulf News doesn't report that a week later, he had this 17 year old high school drop out living with him, tossing cigarete butts on the living room floor and leaving cdozens of empty cans of Dr. Pepper scattered through the house.8/28/2004EditPickle Woman of Odd fellow's Rest and the Free Mason's Bone OrchardI've been working on a proposal for the Writing Center for what seems like 1001 Arabian nights.

I will be online all night drinking and pissing cans of Red Bull because I have to meet the Dean tomorrow and show him the goods.

OnSon week-end était presque à son extrémité. C'avait été un week-end qui a examiné son désir de changer. Il avait considéré son problème plus soigneusement chaque jour qui l'a apporté plus près de son nouveau travail. Il a su que sa vie de ce moment vers l'avant l'un ou l'autre le mettrait pendant un cycle familier qui a toujours commencé par beaucoup de conforts. Mais ces conforts initiaux étaient comme les chansons des temptress. Ils étaient les mensonges réprimandés par argent de son diable. Cette fois il a pris une décision. Il a dû y avoir changement. Il qu'il a dû commencer par l'honnêteté rigoureuse. D'abord, il a dû stopper mentir à se. Oui, naturellement il était toujours infiniment dans l'amour "elle" et incapable d'aimer n'importe qui autrement (ou toute autre chose) jusqu'à ce qu'il ou ait conduit ce sentiment par son coeur ou l'amour est revenu à lui. La deuxième chose qu'il a dû faire était de dire la vérité à quelqu'un qui avait hérité sa vie, apparaissant comme un ange de la pitié envoyé vers le bas du ciel pour être pas un traitement mais un opiacé. L'ange a mérité d'entendre la vérité et ainsi il lui a dit qu'et quand il , elle a volé hors de sa vie. Maintenant il était seul. Il était seul avec une douleur presque unedurable, une douleur qui a continué à le prier de dire une prière pour l'ange pour réapparaître même si la prière signifiait qu'il a dû mentir à se, à l'ange et à Dieu. En conclusion, il a admis qu'il était encore impuissant au-dessus de son amour pour la femme il à gauche derrière. Les prières qu'il avait dites avaient disparu sans réponse dans le passé. Et tandis qu'il attendait les prières à répondre, tout autour de lui s'est cassé à part, au delà de la réparation. En outre, beaucoup de gens ont été endommagées en raison de son incapacité de se rendre compte que les prières ne seraient jamais répondues. Il y avait seulement une chose qu'il pourrait maintenant maintenant échapper à la douleur sans rechercher un opiacé. Il a dû prier que Dieu lui accorderait la paix de l'esprit pour comprendre qui lui permettrait de cesser de prier pour l'impossible. C'est la prière qu'il a dû dire surtout. Il n'a pas compté qu'on lui répondrait tout de suite. Mais il s'est senti comme s'il avait finalement croisé cette ligne qu'il n'avait jamais eu la force à croiser avant. D'un côté il a vécu une vie d'individu . De l'autre côté, il a tourné qui plus d'à Dieu. D'un côté, la volonté a réalisé des résultats plus rapides et les résultats finis dans le désastre. De l'autre, les résultats pourraient prendre un jour ou dix ans avant qu'ils ont hérité sa vie et l'ont changé en personne qui il avait l'habitude d'être, la personne il avaient eu lieu de son premier jour dans sa vie.

And if he couldn't get Google to hide it in shakey French, he knew a of song which basically expressed the same fluctuating mood .HOLD ON (Tom Waits)They hung a sign up in out town’if you live it up, you won’tLive it down’So, she left monte rio, sonJust like a bullet leaves a gunWith charcoal eyes and monroe hipsShe went and took that california tripWell, the moon was gold, herHair like windShe said don’t look back justCome on jim(chorus)Oh you got toHold on, hold onYou got to hold onTake my hand, I’m standing right hereYou gotta hold onWell, he gave her a dimestore watchAnd a ring made from a spoonEveryone is looking for someone to blameBut you share my bed, you share my nameWell, go ahead and call the copsYou don’t meet nice girls in coffee shopsShe said baby, I still love youSometimes there’s nothin left to doOh you got toHold on, hold onYou got to hold onTake my hand, I’m standing right here, you got toJust hold on.Well, God bless your crooked little heart st. louis got the best of meI miss your broken-china voice How I wish you were still here with me
Well, you build it up, you wreck it downYou burn your mansion to the groundWhen there’s nothing left to keep you here, whenYou’re falling behind in thisBig blue worldOh you go toHold on, hold on
You got to hold on Take my hand, I’m standing right here You got to hold on Down by the riverside motel, It’s 10 below and falling By a 99 cent store she closed her eyesAnd started swayingBut it’s so hard to dance that wayWhen it’s cold and there’s no musicWell your old hometown is so far awayBut, inside your head there’s a recordThat’s playing, a song calledHold on, hold onYou really got to hold onTake my hand, I’m standing right hereAnd just hold on.8/27/2004EditDaily Reprieve"Meet the new boss/Same as the old boss" (don't make me cite the source)Between the time I wrote yesterday's post on Kathmandu and today, the Maoist have backed off.The mice that roar are now allowing the ancient buses, the rattle traps Frankenstein's monster cars and vans, the deisel fume spewing trucks and tuk tuks to once again careen around those death defying, too beautiful for words Himalayan foothill curves.Apparently the insurgents were hoping that at some stage there would be a popular urban uprising.

Although they have the support of a lot of Nepalis I've met and with whom I've discussed this issue at length, I suppose it is not the easiest of missions to incite an uprising in a country whose two major religions have a central dogma of passivity and moderation.The Maoist have no Che Guevara, no Danton, no Jefferson or Thomas Payne, no Lenin, no Trotsky. Hell, they don't even have a Mao.There is nothing similar to a Ho Chi Minh trail. No sympathetic allies who are going to order 300,000 soldiers to silently wade across the Yalu river. They don't have a rich kid gone bad like Osama bin Laden to write them blank checks for RPGs and AK47s. There is no threat of dominoes toppling throughout Central Asia.

No promise of virgins in Paradise for the faithful.Rag tag doesn't even begin to describe the "Maoists". Most of the real weapons they have, they've snatched from the few remote outposts they've been able to overrun with their zip guns and machetes. All they have had up till now is the ambiguous support of an impoverished, unempowered, dispossessed and wildly diverse mixture of ethnic groups, none of whom (by themselves) make up a majority population.George W. gave the government a couple hundred million to fight the Maoist terror threat, and even if only a ridiculously small percentage of the money went towards bulking up the Army, the King still wildly outspent his enemies.

They can only load their guns with resentments. If you resent a bank that folded and a government that can't or won't do anything to help you recover your life's savings--so go the Maoist. They'll fix it. Yeah, sure, sure. Trust 'em.I can't blame Nepalis like my friend for resenting the Tibetan middle class because they are the people whom the tourists have flown half way around the world to gaze at in a stupefying awe that was inspired by a shelf full of Joseph Campbell books and some dirt cheap cassette recordings of the Dalai Lama's aphorisms read by one of those Redgrave girls.I guess some pro-active comrade back at Maoist HQ must have convinced his commissar that if the blockade will only make an almost unedurable life worse for people whose loftiest aspirations go now further than two hot bowls of rice and lentils a day, then what's the point?

The people don't have an "other" which can inspire enough loathing to rise up, an "other" like Hitler's Jews or the Vietnamese imperialist government or the occupying forces of non-believers. The closest they have to an other are the Tibet Tibetans who fled their country when the man himself, Mao Tse Tung, took over their country. But several of the ethnic groups in Nepal have close Tibetan roots to begin with so it's not as though their exile can be seen as an invasion. It is more of a cousin helping a cousin.The refugees who linked up with their Nepali-Tibetan cousins came with enough loot to buy, to build and to own. They own the restaurants, the hotels, the souveneir shops and the travel agencies.

They built the tourism business. It is my (mis?)understanding that given a choice between having to work for a Tibetan immigrant and one from the land to the south, they prefer the Tibetans.Do the math. Until the 1950's, Nepal would not allow foreigners into the country. Tourism was forbidden.

The Tibetans went into exile in 1950. In 1953, Nepal began to allow foreigners into their country and right away Sherpa Tenzing Norgay (with Edmund Hillary and his wallet right behind him) became the first man to reach the summit of Everest. And an industry was born.As far as I know, there are only two "others" that the Maoists can use to rally popular support to sustain their fight and these are 1. corruption and 2. the caste system.

When Mao himself invaded Tibet, to his credit (and I could be shot at dawn by Martin Scorcese for saying this) he dismantled the caste system and made corruption a capital offense. To his discredit he stole a country, destroyed an ancient culture, murdered enough people of with a common heritage and language to call it a genocide, robbed their fields, starved to death those who weren;t machine gunned en masse, and shipped in enough Chinese to give them a majority status in Tibet.Well, the reality is that today, there is no Tibet. There is a Chinese province called Xi-Zang.

The Tibetan culture that exists there is permitted to practice the old rites because it brings in tourists--the same tourist who have Free Tibet bumper sticker go to Xi-Zang and help to fuel a tourist industry for the Chinese.So what does survive only survives the same way Native American culture has been able to remember their customs and rites-- by endearing the world with their old ways to the extent that they can maintain a virtual culture. They come to this country, visit Unitarian churches, put on the big head gear and chant the ancient songs for the price of an admission ticket.

And they have nice neighborhoods in Kathmandu like where Bodnath temple is--and if you ever go there, it is not a shopping area where you can dicker about the price.So, where do the Nepali fit into all of this? First of all, who are the Nepali? The Brahmin and the Chhetris? The Rai and the Limbu? The Newaris (part Tibetan, part Burmese), the Tamangs and the Sherpas (the main group of Nepali who have mostly a Tibetan heritage)? Just to name a few.Even their languages differ in forms that are not just the product of branches evolving from the same root. There are more than fifty dialects of Sino-Tibetan and the same for dialects of Indo-Aryan.Unless these scattered people who share a country where for centuries one kingdom was completely cut off from another that was just a few miles away as the crow flies (but not as the hominid walks) can offer the outside world a little than the most breathtaking, the most sublime and the most humbling scenery on the planet, then its doubtful that they are going to risk their two bowls of dahl baht a day for a pipe dream being fought with knives, a few stolen rifles, some guns made from left over water pipes and a couple of pretty cheesy web// sites.

Kathmandu is under siege. The Maoist have surrounded the city. My friend and guide has sent me an Email a day begging me to help him come to Kuwait. He could be a security guard, a pumper of gas, a gardener or a tea boy/photo-copy runner in a bank. I'm doing what I can to find him a sponsor, that is, a Kuwaiti who could arrange for his visa. The Nepali doorman at the university is from Kathmandu. He said the only way my friend could come here would be through an employment agency. But these days, they're not to be trusted. My friend might sign on for a job as a dock worker in Kuwait or a lawn attendant (he has completed a horticulture class and has a certificate in hand).

He may even become a round-about attendant, planting flowers and maintaining shrubs and date trees. Or he could end up in Iraq. He's soft spoken and has a decent well-rounded (mostly self-taught) education. He owns two white shirts and a pair of black cord trousers. He shines his black shoes every night and he wears them with white socks. He has large, round eyes. I see my eyes in his--or at least with a chew of black temple ball in my stomach, I did, once. He's sort of like a son to me. His uncle slapped his hand most severely when he was a child for disrespecting a Buddhist shrine.

My friend is a Hindu, but in Nepal, they have as much reverence for Buddhism as they do their own faith. In fact, they revere all believers in God, no matter that others might have Gods which don't permit reciprocity.

For the Nepali Hindu man on the street, a God by any other mask is still God. Still, his story about the hand slapping incident, which came up during one evening constitutionals and was a follow-up to an earlier discussion about childish willfulness and answered the question about when it is time to spank a kid. Because he was tall enough, which meant because he could, he ran ahead of his uncle to a small Buddhist shrine in a Durbar square, ran a full circle around the shrine, spinning each wheel as hard as he could the way a boy in America might press every elevator button in an apartment building or ring a neighbors door bell then run and hide.

Except this had a bit more gravity to it than momentarily ticking off a few grown ups. This would be as taboo as blowing out all the lit candles at a Catholic altar for the dead or entering a mosque or Hindu temple still shod. Apparently the local papers aren't being generous with information about the siege. News of the siege could kill the trekking industry--which is THE industry in Nepal.

I'm sure the Maoist could be avoided by a guide who knew the back roads. Plus the local twin engine prop plane that makes runs to Pokhara, the trekkers rallying point, is unaffected. Then again, for the right price, anything is possible.

I once offered a rafting guide enough money to take me on a river during monsoons, a river that was rising fast and that had six foot swells charging down river like unstoppable Panzer divisions. Making the front page of the local paper instead of the encirclement is a story about a baby born in Iran with two heads attached to one torso.

But in other countries, there are reports of a fire fights with the army and a nationwide bahn, a strike, and all shops have been ordered closed by the Maoist. For the first time since these by-the-numbers peasant revolutionaries started building an arsenal by fashioning clubs, sharpening knives and assembling single shot firearms from water pipes, duct tape and matchsticks, foreigners are targets if they don't get out of the way of the fight.

This must mean that the movie theater where my friend is working has shut its doors. Theaters are deliciously soft targets, just right for Molotov cocktails. He earns around 50 dollars a month. Fifteen dollars pays the rent on his one-room flat (running water comes from the community well--an urban community well, poop and pee go nto the community squat toilet flushed only when one pours a plastic pitcher of water into the hole. ) 1o dollars a month is needed to pay for his son's education.

The rest of the money he gives to his wife to fill the kitchen jars with rice and lentils. The kitchen is in one corner of the room. The stove is a single burner camping cooker fueled by a small gas cylinder; bricks and boards make up the pantry. The agency that would send him to Kuwait (and maybe on to Iraq) charges a one lakh Nepali rupee fee if paid up front, one and a half times that if paid in installments.

That's one hundred and fifty thousand N.R. or 1,500 US. In Kuwait he'd probably earn around fifty to seventy-five KD a month (150 - 175 US or one tenth of his agency fee). The first year of his contract, he'd work for very little as the agency fee must be repaid as soon as possible. He wouldn't be able to bring his family. The minimum salary requirement to bring in his family is 400 KD a month (about 850 bucks) .

After three years, he would get a free round trip ticket home for a two month stay. Maybe I could help him, but the chances are slim. Most of the hard labor in Kuwait comes from countries where guerilla wars have been hot for years.

To prevent the bleeding hearts from taking in too many stray refugees, the sponsorship laws are strict and limiting, even for Kuwaitis. This also helps to eliminate an unofficial prostitution industry like the one in Bahrain or the UAE. But if I could bring them here, his wife could earn money cleaning houses; he could pick up some extra pocket money washing cars on the side in mall parking lots (for a small unofficial licensing fee) or hanging out around the open bed trucks parked near the used furniture souks. I would be able to afford to pay for his son's education at a low-end English speaking school (Pakistani probably).

I'm sure that low-end in Kuwait would look like five stars to him. They could live in the extra room I have, the one I use to store my extra TV and cat litter box. I'd move the litter box to my balcony. The year I decided to return to the US and start a couple of businesses--one, a studio/gallery for TK; the other, an import business dealing in Tibetan trinkets (singing bowls, Thankas, non-violent leather popular among Richard Gere fans and newly recovering co-dependents) I'd gone on a buy to Kathmandu during the Christmas season (which happened to coincide with Ramadan and Eid that year, and I was flying up from the UAE so the spirit of generosity was thick), I bought a bicycle for a child for the first time.

I hadn't met my own child yet. Her mother and I hadn't even agreed that it was a good idea if I should ever meet her. When TK and I went to see the potters in Bhaktapur the year before that, we tipped my friend with a new foot-pedaled, hand cranked Singer a sewing machine (price--45 US) as a means of providing his family with some sort of life insurance should something happen to him. He had been hinting that the Maoist army was looking for recruits and out of ear shot of TK, he nodded his head yes when I asked if he'd like some cargo pocket pants, a backpack, a canteen and a rifle.

If something were to happen to him, his wife wouldn't have to sign-on as one of the 50,000 Nepali women who are trucked each year to Calcutta and Mumbai to fuck and suck middle-class Indian men. She could sew Thanka covers. Mend clothes. Embroider t-shirts with the words "Yak Yak Yak" under three ready-made patches which bear a slight resemblance to a Yak, one of the Nepali beasts of burden.

My friend is a Newari. His wife is a Nepali of Tibetan descent. They come from the same village and are of equal caste status. At one time, TK and I promised him we'd be back every summer to help establish a non-profit summer camp to teach English, painting and drawing. Breaking that promise was of many broken by the Kendall Jackson vineyards, one of several that rearranged the ebb and flow of my seritonin uptake and which turned me into a Berserker willing to accept a military contract in Saudi Arabia..

It could still happen, the school in Nepal, though I might have to drop the art classes. Today I made a phone call after chatting with my sponsor. It was another rare moment, like the one where I got off a plane bound for Bangkok. I'll call it progress."I cannot deal with these resentments over last year without letting some of the anger surface. It isn't fair to you to be a witness to or a target of my stuff."I think we're going to be friends (full stop).

Nothing more. That's what she said. We'll see.Back home, in the days (and nights), if I'd lost track of time, spent most of my money and pissed away my dignity, that is if I'd stayed out too late at night, I could get a fix on the hour when I walked or crawled from my car to front door and heard the songs of the Louisiana Water thrush in heat.

Here, the morning song birds are momentarily drowned out while muezzins announce "Fajr" prayer which is the first "salaat" of the day. The call goes out just as the sun begins to suggest its presence as a thin thread of less dark stretches across the horizon in the darkest hour of new day.Though I move from car to front door with a sure and steady gait these days, with money in my wallet and my dignity holding its own, my furtive homecomings are witnessed by the bearded ones who wear the hems of their dishdashas just above their ankles.

Some of them try not to glare at the infidel carrying two guitars and a leather bag full of patch cords and effects devices as they hurry to Masjid.I got in around five this morning.Last night I sat in with two music groups. One was the more family-oriented, living room gathering, the first Folk Night of the season where I and my Dobro made our debut; the other was at the Blue Torch Lounge where I strapped on my aging Telecaster with the action of the strings raised about an inch off the fret board for my salty open tuning slide solos.Flok night didn't go well. The quieter gig of last night's two gigs was cut short after the guitarists played and sang too many American standards for the tastes of the British purists.

The loudest UK critic of American twanging songs didn't recognize that the basics of all this "Down the Mountain" music came from the Isles, and Africa of course. One style came either by choice or servitude. The other in chains.After the strummers were scolded like public school hooligans for hogging the Flok night with their American nonsense, I decided to make like Dylan in '65 and go electric. I arrived at the Blue Torch Lounge about 10.

This morning I came home very late or very early (depending on your Catholic guilt or Protestant work ethic) because after the crowd thinned down, I got into a good jam with T., a Kuwait jazz guitarist.Around two in the morning, the Blue Torch looked like any other bar in the US, post-last call, when the last of the staggerers stumble to their cars, and all the fat chicks at the end of the bar finally get invites back to his place, when the band members have to pack up and wait around for the bar owner come out of his office with the pay.

Only a handful of hard core night hawks remained, the shebab who don't generally go home until sunrise anyway.Also hanging out after hours was the Armenian drummer, A., whom I've been playing with in this country since 1997, and my homes, K., from Mid-City New Orleans,lead singer, harp player, the keeper of the castle (five floors and a basement den converted into the Blue Torch) T. stuck around as well. T. is a Kuwaiti jazz guitarist who raves on and on about his faith, the one true faith laying out his position with an endless number of specifics--usually after he's poured about 3/4 of a bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label down his gullet.Last week I asked him if he knew any Kuwait musicians who played Arabic sea chants, Al Samri music.

I love the stuff. And I want to record with some. It's the traditional music and although I haven't done the scholarship, I am pretty sure its roots are African, perhaps the same African origins as the cotton field chanting which is the mother tongue of the blues.For sometime now, I've worked on fusing the two. Last year in the US I went so far as to dig up a feller who played Arabic drums for a belly dancing troupe and we played some downtown arts festival or other to good reviews from those who stopped by to listen.

T. didn't get the connection between Looziana delta blues and Gulf Arab sea chants. So around two thirty in the morning, I took out my dobro, he his acoustic guitar. A. sat on the floor with tablas. I tuned my Dobro to this open tuning: DGADGC which is close to that of the Oud.The sixth and fifth strings are dropped whole step same as an open G, one of Elmo James' tuning. On those lower strings, I play notes familiar to both styles.

The fourth string goes down six steps. In other words--its dropped way down there and is extremely bendable and great for pull offs. The same thing is done for the G string. The B and high E strings go down even lower--seven steps. All this flexibility helps to manipulate the strings to hit the quarter tones in Middle Eastern scales.You can hear Jimmy Page using this tuning on several songs. I'm not breaking new ground, but then, his fusion of Middle Eastern modes and Delta blues in 1994 was in Morocco, which is much closer to the source of Western African riddums and so the sound was less off-the-wall than what I am attempting to do.

"If you have decided that you want what we have and are willing to go to any lengths to get itthen you are ready to take certain steps. (BB )Zaytuni's sponsor "suggested" I remove all my tracking devices.

Sometimes you have to throw the baby out with the bath water. I got a kick out of seeing IP addresses from servers at NASA, Time Warner, CBS and wondering "who in the hell. . .?" But then I started noticing this one IP address from Baton Rouge dropping by not every now and again but several times a day, everyday. I started to ping it, track it, resolving it to DNS and domains. I even found some trial software that gave me a fix on longitude and latitude.

I became obsessed trying to figure out who in that God forsaken "vortex of despair" (John Kennedy Toole, Confederacy of Dunces) would want to read my pedantic, purple prose bullshit.I soon found myself writing about those best of times, worst of times and even reached a point where I once again began opening my Email accounts in the morning hoping to read that she'd been to 90 meetings in 90 days, had a sponsor and wanted to make amends for her part.In other words, on the verge of starting this job of Jobs, I was regressing to the three don'ts of Al Anon: "if only", "I should have", and "but this is different". I even hacked into what I knew to be a dormant Email account I'd set up for her in the UAE just to nick of few sentences and post them to verify that it was indeed my ex-kinda-sorta wife, the loveliest, enormously talented little flower of Jesus when sober but who also happens to be a really mean gin-soaked barroom queen in Memphis who never heaved right across her shoulders but did kick me in the shins once or twice when drunk (which is every night after work and all day Saturday and Sunday).What would possess her to keep tabs on me?

Gotta admit. It bugged me. big time (how do they say it with that annoying BR falling dipthong--"it bugged me big Tie-am or Tim).My guess is that one of the three hundred thousand miserable lowlife thieving scum-sucking lower-than-snake-shit, under rocks dwelling lawyers (like the lunatic my sister bred with), who make up 63% of the population in Baton Rouge, advised her that she could take part in East Baton Rouge's fourth favorite pastime--serving someone with papers. In this case I imagine she was snooping for libelous remarks. (28% of the population is in "marketing"--whatever the hell that means. The rest are teachers because they can't figure out how to work a cash register or are too old to be lap dancers).The other BR favorite pastimes you ask? Number 1--getting drunk;

Number 2--fucking someone other than who you are supposed to be fucking when drunk, then getting drunk and telling everybody and their little brothers about it; Number 3--staying drunk while waiting for that thread bare, bush league blues scene to become internationally recognized because some one hit wonder named Tabby Thomas says it's gonna happen anyday now on his pre-recorded, self-aggrandizing two hours-a-week high school radio show where he plays nothing but Tabby Thomas records, while drunk, and bitterly tells whoever will listen that he discovered Buddy Guy, B.B. King and Tab Benoit. The wait for the world to recognize BR's legendary blues status is now in its 32nd year. They don't get it. Buddy Guy made it because he left Baton Rouge and never looked back, not because he was from there. Tabby's boy Chris made it because he also got on the bus and got the duck out of Fodge (he's plays the Robert Johnson character in "Oh Brother Where Art Thou?"I removed the trackers. And it is my hope that anybody from that town who comes to this site will piss off after reading this post. Or be inspired and leave town.When I removed the html codes, it felt like I was flushing pills or getting off that plane bound for Bangkok.

So my sponsor was right on the money.I left the Bravenet counter on because it's pretty weak, doesn't include a Who Is? link and in a month or two, I'll hit some magic number and the free trial will end.She rested her head on his chest as they caught their breath. Then the subject came up again. She said, "I don't ask you for much. I never ask you for anything. I only want to have one piece of paper and a baby."

Because they were living in a Muslim country, she needed to have a marriage on paper if one out of a few hundred million of his sperm cells were ever to break through the outer walls protecting her ovum and produce a result. Without the paper and with a result, she could do jail time and be deported. She promised that she'd keep her own place. He could stay in his. He reminded her that he was working on many issues, that he didn't feel like he had recovered sufficiently from old wounds to be a parent.

She persisted. "I will do it on my own. I don't need anything from you. I have money saved, property back home." It was time for him to break out the big guns, the emergency back-up stuff about himself which generally inspired the smarter ones to voluntarily hightail it out of his life. He started with the standard introduction--went on for a few minutes explaining how she didn't know anything about him, added another couple of minutes essentially saying that she didn't known what she'd be getting into, he would ruin her life., ruin her credit rating. Her family would turn their backs on her. He waited for her to say it couldn't be that bad, which she did, and that was his cue.

"Okay,," he started. He'd been an arsonist and had once nearly committed murder. "Years ago, during my first marriage, I helped my father-in-law torch a house just to get shed of some annoying neighbors. He drove the get-away car while I lit the pile of newspapers in the carport. We thought nobody was home. If another neighbor hadn't driven up just as the fire was consuming the house and if he hadn't gone into the house. . .well.

You see there was a woman sleeping in one of the bedroooms." "Still you didn't kill anybody, right?" He'd been guilty of grand theft and fraud. "I used to bartend in college, right. So I got this idea to start duplicating credit card vouchers. I would use the numbers to order first class airline tickets and the invite women to spend the weekend with me in New York City." She thought for a moment and said,”

You know that the credit card companies don't make the card holders pay fraudulent bills. I bet they even sent them a gift and raised their limit." He could not be trusted. in a relationship. "Once, when my second wife was out of town, I picked up a stranger in a bar, spent three days and nights at her house.

Then to get rid of her, I invited her to my home. She snooped around when I went into the kitchen, read the names on same mail and said, 'You never mentioned you were married.' I said, 'You never asked.' How rotten is that?" "You can be with as many women as you like. I just want one of your sperm cells." He sat up in bed and began to speak, his voice growing louder with each point he was trying to make. "Lookit. I'm a drunk who’s lucky if he can go six months without a drink, an addict who wouldn't mind getting cancer because it would mean a lot of free morphine. I'm a sex addict who once traded his wedding ring for a blow job." "Just one sperm cell and a piece of paper."

"I'm not finished. I have an irredeemable, unsolvable problem with anger. I have panic attacks in traffic, I scream at anyone who remotely pisses me off. I've been diagnosed Bi-polar, Borderline Personality Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive and I have Adult Attention Deficit Disorder. I'm an Agoraphobic, a Sociophobic, a Misogynist, and a Hedonist. I don't think babies are cute; they do nothing but poop and cry and they cost a lot of money. Don't you get it? I've never had a checking account opened for more than a year, a home address for more than two or a relationship that didn’t end without having to spend a night or two in jail. I hate small dogs, fresh vegetables, walks along the beach, sunsets, sunrises, clouds never look like anything else to me other than clouds. And between friends, family, the IRS and my student loans, I owe enough money for an eighteen year old to retire and live comfortably to be a hundred." "I never said I like you or that I want to marry you. You scare me." She put her hand on his crotch, "But," then she grabbed him "this isn't about you." I went to the Ahmadi speak-easy to strum a few tunes for a small gathering of Department of Defense workers on leave from Baghdad tonight. They'd trucked back a few cases of Heinekens and a couple bottles of scotch. I stuck to Zoloft with an N/A Barbican lemon chaser. I had my daily reprieve.Over the weekend, I picked up a Korean made Dobro. I adjusted the effects device to heavy tremolo and reverb, tuned to an open D for my Ry Cooder/John Hammond impressions and gave them some Delta blues on the Arabian Gulf. It was a down and dirty night juke joint night.The boys are on their way to Bahrain as I type this.. I can not only recommend hotels but who to ask for and what the true last price for Americans is.

I reminded the skank-mongers of Zaytuni's rule of thumb when one goes out-of-control wenching: cheaper by the dozen.I'll call the boys Austin 1 and Austin 2, Lafayette Bob, Fort Myers Doug and the fat man from Watertown.Austin 1 wanted to know where in Bahrain he could find sub-continentals.

I told him his best shot would be a maid on the game.Austin 2 said, "Sheeit, I don't wanna sound like a redneck but most of those Indians I've encountered have a different concept of hygiene than I am used to. ""I hear you. " Fat Man from Watertown kept a cigarette in his mouth as he talked and drank. He was on his hundreth BBQ'ed hotdog. "In 1996, I was working for Dyna-Corp right here in Kuwait when wife #2 decided she'd rather be bumping beaver with some Chink waitress down in Poughkeepsie than live with me here in Kuwait. I survived for a year on a steady diet of Sri Lankan house maids."Fort Myers Doug drawled out a perfect 10 "Sheeeeeit." He drank scotch shooters. "In Jeddah, I was reduced to scrounging up Eritreans in malls who charged 500 Riyals for a 'lay still and let Mister do his business' performance. Price gouging and stanky poothy."Austin 2 noticed I was eaves dropping and addressed me when he said, "Negroids and sub-continentals had better be able to suck the proverbial golf ball through 20 feet of garden hose for my money."

"Chrome off a trailer hitch," some one said."Unscrew the head and work on the wires." another added."Inhale so hard your head caves in.""Suck so hard you'll have to pull the sheets out of your ass when she's done."They all fell into a quiet meditation.Then Lafayette Bob spoke up. "I guess I'm pretty much a caucausaphiliac. I have great concern for nipple to flesh color contrast, minimum half dollars in circumference. And I want to see at the very least a martini glass patch of fur. With the right TA-50, Mister don't mind if they lay there and think of the Queen. It's all in the visual aids."Zaytuni remembered TA-50 as the nomeclature for the gear soldiers hump into combat. "Go to the Phonecia,"

Zaytuni said. "You'll find Cossacks by the hoards there.""Dig it," said Austin 2. "Ruskies and Thais. Now those Thai girls have that nipple to flesh color contrast goin' on in spades but the spoiler is they are also deforested. It's what you call ironic. Or is that a paradox?""Stay at the Dilmun, " I said. "Ask for Maha.""Nothing is true. Everything is permitted." (Hassan bin Sabbah, 11th century)Hassan Sabbah was a man of faith, a true believer, a real back to the basics kind of guy whose neighbors might have described him as "nice" but who "kept to himself" (the same way many of our garden-variety serial killers are described by their neighbors as the police find skeletons in closets, basements, backyards and refrigerators).

How did they come to live a life shrugging off what shouldn't have been and what might be? How was it they knew the secret of quieting the mind? What drove them? Better yet, why weren't they driven?He and virtually everyone else he has known or (he suspected) everyone else who had been, is now or will ever experience what Shelley calls "fast influencings" never seem to get the hang of this thing.His life operated much like a suspended-ball desk toy, clicking and clacking, demonstrating the key principle to a dogma which defined him. One prime of life yields a twilight which yields an infancy which grows into another prime of life. Every remedy unbalanced his psychic system; every ailment was an anchor.

Adversity was quieting.

Complacency filled his head with unwelcomed, ambient noise. Click. He sat up in bed and mouthed "Sod it."

He picked up the phone and dialed a number.8/3/2004EditMounting

If Mallory hadn't tried and failed time and again, eventually vanishing somewhere on the side of the mountain, that is, if he'd succeeded and hadn't left a headless pile of bones up there, then Hillary would have only had a mountain to climb, not a myth to conquer. 8/2/2004EditAmnesty Intrarational"What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition." (BB)He stood trance-like at the crossroads, looking east and west.The abyss stared into him.

A two-headed hell hound growled, dripping strands of bloodlike drool from its great gaping jaws onto the Kuwait Airlines ticket office carpet. He saw it all yet felt nothing. That peculiar supernumeral sense of being in a place not just familiar but well known down to smallest details anaesthetized common sense.

This was the plot point which set up the final act in his mid-summer divine comedy of errors.He listened to that voice. "Go on! Embrace the choice with all your heart. You won't be alone in oblivion.

You'll eat your favorite foods, drink your favorite poisons.

Put them pills inside you--the ones that go this way, the others that go in the opposite direction. There will be no short supply of perfumed predators who will take you into their mouths like never before. And we never know.

This time, we might not have to hear the muezzin callin', tellin' us it's time to break up the party. Also, the sun might never rise."A moral numbness slackened his jaw and he asked the question.The ticket agent stopped typing the flight information and instead used the mouse to bring up a screen which would give him an answer about hotel discounts on Exhibition Avenue.The voice whispered, "There are worse things in this world than being kept alive on tubes and an air pump.

"Tubes and an air pump."You take care of things, " her Mama had said to him, the last thing she'd said to him.Earlier that day, he'd opened a bank account. The furniture allowance was on its way. The contract had been signed. He had a list of ground floor flats with patios in his folder. The business cards would be ready next Saturday: Director/ Writing Resource Center.Then, that peculiar sense of familiarity had taken him back to another late summer, a summer that opened into a fall when she came. Within days she had the entire bedroom wall painted with a mural of her three favorite muses and a cat beckoning at the moon. She then began to plant a garden in the middle of the desert.

By her third week in country, one early evening, together they went to sign-onto the local geographical society--she to learn more about desert flowers, he to eat finger sandwiches. It was there that they first heard about the blooms of smoke and glass which had chased thousands through the streets of Manhattan.Then, in that ticket office, something happened in the amount of time it takes to say "something happened." The two-headed hellhound stopped drooling and began to morph into two fat cats who began to chew on his fingers to remind him that if it weren't for his uncanning ability, they'd suffer starvation.

"No, wait." he said. "Keep the ticket as it is with the one hour lay over and same day return."

8/1/2004EditThis exploration of similarities is where they fou...This exploration of similarities is where they found common ground. For both college had happened despite family and finances each as dark and as vague as the other's. 8/1/2004EditBalanceIt wasn't her studio. There were no cats, no wine, no songs on a radio. Still, she knew how to use the stick to power the wheel. As the wheel gained speed it sang a weary, rhythmic mantra. She focused her eyes on the clay while the potter poured water over her hands. Her fingers and her heart worked towards the center of gravity.

When she found it, she worked her small hands outwards, balancing herself by locking her knees. The ancient wheel wobbled and hummed, unlike her electric wheels which whirled steadily but bitched, whined and moaned everytime they spun. The potters in the square had no reason to make every pot incomparable one from the other. People used these pots.By the time he finally returned to the square with a young man who spoke enough English to ask the potters if they'd mind letting her have a go at their wheels, she'd already shaped a half dozen pots and the attention of the entire village was riveted to this unreal figure, this white face woman covered in mud with a laugh that was unrestrained and contagious.