RSSAll Entries in the "Featured Peeks" Category

RANCHERS PRESERVED FOR PERPETUITY

Ridgway) In an attempt to sustain the cowboy culture, seven local ranchers have been preserved thanks to donations from an assortment of conservation entities.

Although details are sketchy at press time (and the cows are in the corn) it appears that the lucky seven have been soaked in a formula of turpentine, ditch water and honey.

“In just a few hours these guys will not only be protected from the elements and aging,” said an open space advocate, “but never again will we see subdivisions built right on top of their heads.”

Local residents, shocked at first by such new age planning, say rampant development threatens to destroy their lifestyle and that 35-acre rancheros and golf courses often crush their cowboy hats.

More on this as we make it up.

 

“An agnostic is just an atheist without balls.” – Stephen Colbert

FREE SKI AND BOBBY MCGEE

from a few years ago…

…when Crested Butte offered free skiing during a few days early in the season.
with apologies to Kris Kristopherson

Busted flat in Gunnison

waitin’ for the dump.

Been feelin’ bout as jaded

as my means.

Bobby flagged a pickup down

just before it snowed.

Rode it all the way

to Crested Butte.

Held onto my goggles

and my dirty red bandana

banking curves

while Bobby sang the blues.

Hungry magpies

makin’ time

holding Booby’s hand in line

We sang every song

that lift op knew.

Skiing’s just another word

for nothing much to do.

The skiing ain’t worth nothin’

‘less it’s  free.

Feelin good was easy, Lord

when he missed a tree.

Feelin good was good

enough for me

Good enough for free ski

and Bobby McGee.

One day near East River

Lord, I let him slip away

He’s lookin’ for those bumps

and I hope he finds them

And I’d trade all my adventures

for one single powder day

to be holdin’ Bobby’s body

next to mine.

(Repeat chorus).

A Martian in El Jardin

The noise in this Colombian town was pulverizing during the holidays so I thought I’d invest in a pair of earplugs. I made my way through the disassociated throngs near the plaza and entered a pharmacy, the counter manned by several overworked women. My Spanish isn’t too bad, I thought, and asked if they sold tampones de los oidos.

“Tampones?” the first women asked. “Tampones for who?”

“For me I said as if it wasn’t clear enough. Tampones por mis oidos. (Tampones for my ears).

The other started laughing.

“You mean tapones, not tampones,” she said holding up both.

“Oh, no” I flinched. “I was wanting tapones,” I said looking around to see who was eavesdropping on the conversation.

I bought the tapones and mad a quick exit thankful that I knew the proper name for toilet paper.

Everyone says hello back

The majority of the residents here have never been out of Colombia and to many the concept of global geography is limited to the bright green world of coffee farms and the wondrous mountains of the Cafetera.

That said it is not surprising that a foreigner gets a few stares on the street. The antidote: A boisterous Buenos Dias! or colloquial Que mas? That changes playing field. The response is a friendly, though surprised, greeting, usually sincere.

It is clear that somehow they think 1.) gringos can’t speak Castillano  2.) visitors are here because it’ a cheap place to live 3.) foreign males spend 24 hours a day looking for women. Misconceptions as the arepa (corn tortilla concotion) turns.

Often, when they are more relaxed they will ask “De donde” (Where are you from). My answer to a robotic exchange is “Hollywood.” with no trace of a smile. Then I accessorize my claim by adding No es claro? (Isn’t it clear?). Then, depending on the person I confess my fib, and give them the real poop. Most give me a gentle slap on the arm and laugh.

Almost always, after I meet someone they remember my name (easy since there are few gringos living here) and a warm relationship begins. Just try eating at the same restaurant three days in a row. All of a sudden you are treated almost like family.

El Calle de Borachos (Drunk Street)

Sunday is a good day to stay home. That’s the coffee workers’ day off and many spend it slamming beers and aguardiente in the raucous parade of bars wedged on 9th Street or on the plaza. If you were a fly on the wall you’d need tiny, little tapones (see above). If the booze won’t kill you the loud music will.

Although the drunks are peaceful enough they are often over-friendly and a pain in the ass, especially if I am in the company of a woman. Is this a demented flirtation? Maybe these men are the official poster children for the recruitment of nuns. After observing their common ritual many women might just prefer the cloistered life. If a find myself in that inebriated barrio I just whisper a prayer to Saint Pancreas, the patron of fried food, and keep moving.

Trash Days Take the Cake

On Tuesday and Saturday the trash truck blows its horns at about 6 am. That’s the day to put out your organics. Friday is regular trash pickup while Wednesday is recycles day. I don’t know what the local hygienic engineers do on the other days. Maybe they hang out on Drunk Street but more than likely they tend their gardens, drive tourists around in moto-ratones (tuks-tuks or more precisely motor mice) or work their small coffee farms tumbling down the side of the mountains. Lazy bastards.

I simply take notes on the meticulous agenda so as not to be keeping trash on my balcony well after its time.

It’s all well done with an additional corps of street cleaners keeping the town very clean. They also get a hand from the regular afternoon rain that washes away the remnants of the Paso Finos, the horses with the natural four-beat gait that proudly grace the lanes of the village.

The rubbish and refuse are then taken to the landfill and buried. It is not, as many up north believe, magically transformed into cocaine to be sold in Miami. That is our problem, not theirs, in this cowboy-as-Colorado community of 1700 souls. The trash service is provided free of charge unlike some Latin American towns where residents, often of limited means, are forced to choose between paying for trash pickup and buying a six-pack of cold beer.

– Dolores Alegria

A BEAT NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

‘Twas the night before Christmas

And all through the castle

Not a digger was stirring

It was just too much hassle.

(Most of us had been down at Golden Gate Park diggin’ the music and were wasted.)

The stockings were flung on the floor and the chair

Grab me my pants, there’s a party up there.

(Despite chronic fatigue the cat upstairs was making some kind of racket but soon he’ll be cool since his woman gets off work by seven.)

The horn men were nestled with notes in their heads

While visions of reefer waltzed with second hand threads.

(The North Beach Good Will has just scored new duds, the kind afforded by clotheshorse jazz musicians who seem to be between gigs.)

And momma comes home to see all this crap

She settled his brains and I don’t hear a rap.

(As expected the lady upstairs arrived home at the usual time and found her man engaged in extra-curricular diversions with an assortment of new friends. A gunshot. Another.)

When out on the highway there arose Dharma batter

The straights cruised on by engulfed in their chatter.

(Why do you want to show up to work everyday when there are places in this very galaxy that you have never been?)

Away to the window I flew like jack flash

Pulled down the Venetians, securing my stash.

(I wanted to see if the cat upstairs was alive or dead but I thought I’d better hide my stash before the North Beach Gestapo started asking a lot of questions.)

The moon and the rest of the ash-ridden snow

Convinced me that midday was too late to go.

(This place is nowhere. With a little luck and the right boxcar I could be in Mexico City for the New Year.)

When what to my wandering mind should appear

But San Francisco’s finest from the front and the rear.

(Somebody in the building must have called up the heat when they heard the shots. They were everywhere, responding in their noted Zen vigor in this neighborhood infested with home sapiens of the discarded variety.)

At my door an old sergeant, with stick of the night

I can’t wait till morning…it’s exit…stage right!

(My duffel bag lay packed in the corner. Once on my back it was out the door leading me to more tolerant horizons.)

More rapid than accurate I headed uptown

Grabbed a bus for the freight yard and waited around.

(The midnight train ride down the coast to LA would be a cold one but I could sleep on the beach in Santa Monica in the morning.)

A weathered old brakeman called out in the rain

If you’ve got ample dollars you’ll be riding this train.

(The tired, old drunk wanted some bread for letting me ride the boxcar. I promised him some Mexican grass and offered him a hit off my Thunderbird and, cursing, he wandered off.)

As wilted, dry leaves before hurricanes fly

I am one with the boxcar, fused to the Pacific sky.

(Finally headed toward Southern California, I polished off the wine and fell asleep despite the chill and the cold metal floor.)

So up through the mountains steel coursers they flew

With a cargo of nothingness as their time clock punched two.

(We hit the Coastal Range in the middle of the night as the full moon made another cameo appearance.)

And then in a twinkling I heard on the roof

The brakeman, another…resenting my spoof.

(The railroad cops didn’t appreciate my travel arrangements for the evening and when we stopped at Salinas they tossed my ass off the iron beast and into an unlikely Christmas Eve.)

As I brushed my self off and was turning around

Down the tracks dragged a hobo not making a sound.

(I had just seen this bum down in the Tenderloin last week. He was snoring away in a skid row hotel lobby, too drunk to make it up the stairs to his two-dollar flop.)

He was dressed all in rags from his head to his foot

His clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.

(A bad dream Kris Kringle in the freight yard of America’s last brush with culture?)

His meager belongings he’d thrown in a sack

He smelled like a junkie and let out a hack.

(His personal hygiene didn’t improve with closer proximity.)

His face was one wrinkle, all haggard and hairy

He clung to Wild Roses and a jug of sweet sherry.

His droll, little mouth was drawn up like a bow

The fuzz on his chin gray as winter’s So-Ho.

He rolled up two smokes, “To you I bequeath”

The smoke pouring out from his cave on no teeth.

(The cat had played out his future in baggy pants and shoes force-marched through an alcoholic haze.)

His poker face deluded, bad loser still game

He choked when he spoke but he spoke just the same.

Uncapping his prize he delivered a belt

And I grabbed for the bottle, in spite of myself.

With a wink of his eye and a twist of his head

Out there in hell’s freight yard the hobo dropped dead.

(Time had run out for this earth-bound angel who had never spent Saturday mornings mowing his lawn in the suburbs or driving kids around in a new Ford Station wagon.)

I picked up his dreams, locked tight with no key

Next stop: Potter’s Field for this snarled refugee.

(A watchman helped me cover him and called the cops. There would be no heartbroken relative to identify him, no one to cry at his grave.)

Then catching the time, I watched for a freight

Skillfully boarding, make LA by eight

Back on a boxcar, I slept on my duffel

Agonized at the thought of that wino’s last shuffle.

But desolation’s despots on angles take toll

One long ago Christmas deep deep in my soul.

                                 Paradise Stolen, 1959

  

Christmas Eve On Lonesome

It was Christmas Eve on Lonesome. But nobody on Lonesome knew that it was Christmas Eve, although a child of the outer world could have guessed it, even out in those wilds where Lonesome slipped from one lone log cabin high up the steeps, down through a stretch of jungle darkness to another lone cabin at the mouth of the stream.

There was the holy hush in the gray twilight that comes only on Christmas Eve. There were the big flakes of snow that fell as they never fall except on Christmas Eve. There was a snowy man on horseback in a big coat, and with saddle pockets that might have been bursting with toys for children in the little cabin at the head of the stream.

But not even he knew that it was Christmas Eve. He was thinking of Christmas Eve, but it was of the Christmas Eve of the year before, when he sat in prison with a hundred other men in stripes, and listened to the chaplain talk of peace and good will to all men upon earth, when he had forgotten all men upon earth but one, and had only hatred in his heart for him.

“Vengeance is mine! saith the Lord.”

That was what the chaplain had thundered at him. And then, as now, he thought of the enemy who had betrayed him to the law, and had sworn away liberty, and had robbed him of everything in life except a fierce longing for the day when he could strike back and strike to kill. And then, while he looked back hard into the chaplain’s eyes, and now, while he splashed through the yellow mud thinking of that Christmas Eve, Buck shook his head; and then, as now, his sullen heart answered:

“Mine!” The big flakes drifted to crotch and twig and limb. They gathered on he brim of Buck’s slouch hat, filled out the wrinkles in his big coat, whitened and his long mustache, and sifted into the yellow, twisting path that guided his horse’s feet.

High above he could see through the whirling snow now and then the gleam of a red star. He knew it was the light from his enemy’s window; but somehow the chaplain’s voice kept ringing in his ears, and every time he saw the light he couldn’t help thinking of the story of the Star that the chaplain told that Christmas Eve, and he dropped his eyes by and by, so as not to see it again, and rode on until the light shone in his face.

Then he led his horse up a little ravine and hitched it among the snowy holly and rhododendrons and slipped toward the light. There was a dog somewhere, of course; and like a thief he climbed over the low rail fence and stole through the snow-wet grass until he leaned against an apple-tree with the sill of the window two feet above the level of his eyes.

Reaching above him, he caught a stout limb and dragged himself up to a crotch of the tree. A mass of snow slipped softly to the earth. The branch creaked above the light wind; around the corner of the house a dog growled and he sat still.

He had waited three long years and he had ridden two hard nights and lain out two cold days in the woods for this.

And presently he reached out very carefully, and noiselessly broke leaf and branch and twig until a passage was cleared for his eye and for the point of the pistol that was gripped in his right hand.

A woman was just disappearing through the kitchen door, and he peered cautiously and saw nothing but darting shadows. From one corner a shadow loomed suddenly out in human shape. Buck saw the shadowed gesture of an arm, and he cocked his pistol. That shadow was his man, and in a moment he would be in a chair in the chimney corner to smoke his pipe, maybe – his last pipe.

Buck smiled – pure hatred made him smile – but it was mean, a mean and sorry thing to shoot this man in the back, dog though he was; and now that the moment had come a wave of sickening shame ran through Buck. No one of his name had ever done that before; but this man and his people had, and with their own lips they had framed palliation for him. What was fair for one was fair for the other they always said. A poor man couldn’t fight money in the courts; and so they had shot from the brush, and that was why they were rich now and Buck was poor – why his enemy was safe at home, and he was out here, homeless, in the apple-tree.

Buck thought of all this, but it was no use. The shadow slouched suddenly and disappeared; and Buck was glad. With a gritting oath between his chattering teeth he pulled his pistol in and thrust one leg down to swing from the tree – he would meet him face to face next day and kill him like a man – and there he hung as rigid as though the cold had suddenly turned him, blood, bones, and marrow, into ice.

The door had opened, and full in the firelight stood the girl who he had heard was dead. He knew now how and why that word was sent to him. And now she who had been his sweetheart stood before him – the wife of the man he meant to kill.

Her lips moved – he thought he could tell what she said: “GI up, Jim it up!” Then she went back.

A flame flared up within him now that must have come straight from the devil’s forge. Again the shadows played over the ceiling. His teeth grated as he cocked his pistol, and pointed it down the beam of light that show into the heart of the apple-tree, and wailed.

The shadow of a head shot along the rafters and over the fireplace. It was a madman clutching the butt of the pistol now, and as his eye caught the glinting sight and his heart thumped, there stepped into the square light of the window – a child!

It was a boy with yellow tumbled hair, and he had a puppy in his arms. In front of the fire the little fellow dropped the dog, and they began to play.

“Yap! Yap! Yap!”

Buck could hear the shrill barking of the fat little dog, and the joyous shrieks of the child as he made his playfellow chase his tail round and round or tumbled him head over heels on the floor. It was the first child Buck had seen for three years; it was his child and hears; and, in the apple-tree, Buck watched fixedly.

They were down on the floor now, rolling over and over together; and he watched them until the child grew tired and turned his face to the fire and lay still – looking into it. Buck could see his eyes close presently, and then the puppy crept closer, put his head on his playmate’s chest, and the two lay thus asleep.

And still Buck looked – his clasp loosening on his pistol and his lips loosening under his stiff mustache – and kept looking until the door opened again and the woman crossed the floor. A flood of light flashed suddenly on the snow, barely touching the snow-hung tips of the apple-tree, and he saw her in the doorway – saw her look anxiously into the darkness – look and listen a long while.

Buck dropped noiselessly to the snow when she closed the door. He wondered what they would think when they saw his tracks in the snow the next morning; and then he realized that they would be covered before the morning.

As he started up the ravine where his horse was he heard the clink of metal down the road and the splash of a horse’s hoofs in the soft mud, and he sank down behind a holly-bush.

Again the light from the cabin flashed out on the snow.

“That you, Jim?”

“Yep!”

And then the child’s voice: “Has oo dot thum tandy?”

“Yep!”

The cheery answer rang out almost at Buck’s ear, and Jim passed death waiting for him behind the bush which was left foot brushed, shaking the snow from the red berries down on the crouching figure beneath.

Once only, far down the dark jungle way, with underlying streak of yellow that was leading him wither, God only knew – once only Buck looked back. There was the red light gleaming faintly through the moonlit flakes of snow. Once more he thought of the Star, and once more the chaplain’s voice came back to him.

“Mine!” said the Lord.

Just how, Buck could not see, with himself in the snow and him back there for life with her and the child, but some strange impulse made him bare his head.

“Yourn,” said Buck grimly.

But nobody on Lonesome – not even Buck – knew that it was Christmas Eve.

Copyright 1901

By Charles Scribner’s Sons

Senate to House Homeless over Holidays

The United States Senate chambers, empty due to a Congressional Recess over the holidays, will host more than 200 homeless citizens through the second week in January when elected officials return to prop up the corporate state with new legislation aimed at distracting us from what the rich and powerful plan to do with you and your country.

It was not clear if the temporary guests would disrupt impeachment hearings that could drag on indefinitely into 2020.

The temporary guests will only sleep in senate chambers being forced to vacate premises during daylight hours so as not to conflict with tours and weekly housekeeping.

“We just couldn’t sit back and watch people freeze while this hollowed hall is heated and empty,” said Ivy Trampoline, a socialist aid worker from Scandinavia. “Many of the recipients of this gesture are taxpayers and others are longtime unemployed and/or victims of a tragic fiscal system that robs them of hope.”

The guests will remain at the senate until January when they will vacate the building. There have been no occupants at the House of Representatives since Republicans there blocked a bill that would have included both facilities in the accommodation package.

“We don’t want a bunch of lazy bums sleeping at our desks,” said Bert Salamander, a representative from Oklahoma and sponsor of a bill that would create a carbon pipeline through Nancy Pelosi’s backyard. “Those desks are for us.”

“If they don’t want to sleep outside why don’t they go find a job?” asked another Representative from Georgia, who repeatedly voted against the Minimum Wage legislation.

One of the temporary residents told reporters that the digs were acceptable but the infrastructure is broken and in need of serious remodeling. “Imagine eight executive bathrooms for 20 people. The aisles are separated by a dangerous public opinion moat and he royal carpet is worn where the filibusters have dragged on,” she whispered. “Meanwhile most of us are secretly hoping the senators won’t come back and we can just continue living here. It’s convenient to all the monuments and museums.”

FOR A RELATED PIECE TURN TO “HOUSE CALLED FOR ICING” ON OLIGARCHS ARE US