Thoughts About Trust and “Knowing” Other Humans


Jack wrote this in October, 2006:

Maybe this is all bull, but it’s the most painless way I’ve ever found to view reality and my human co-conspirators here in this lifetime.  Riding the mudball around the star and watching the two-legged critters wade around the muck beside me hasn’t caused me to admire us as a species.

As for knowing other humans, we mostly don’t allow ourselves to ‘know’ anyone. Instead, we construct them as we wish them to be, assign a set of behaviors required of them.  Often the people we’re trying to hammer into our mold haven’t  agreed to try to satisfy these requirements.  Still, we count it a violation of ‘trust’ if they don’t perform according to the rules we created.

But, even if they told us they agreed to be what we wished them to be, (and they might have meant it when they did it) obeying contracts of that sort just aren’t part of the usual human machinery. The flesh is weak and time and circumstance erode the best of intentions.

Trusting human beings based on unrealistic contracts probably leads to more heartache than simply abandoning the concept of ‘trust’ and the demands that go with it, and adopting a consistent readiness to forgive and continue loving them. (With no joint checking accounts or shared credit cards)


Young Man and Old Man (from Poems of the New Old West)

Old man and young man

Sit, gaze at far reaches

Of valley and desert

Spanning to horizon


“How’d I get to be this old?”


Old man smiles, serene .

“I wonder sometimes myself.”


Young man: “I’m serious.”


Old man sighs and leans

Against a rock.

“You’ve already

Heard the parts about

Cheating, lying, and stealing all

Your life.

Those can shorten things


Could have mine.

Those are things you need to

Keep in moderation.”


Young man frowns.

“You’re joking..”


”No. Just being

Completely honest

For once.

But those are more

Likely just to ruin

Your life than

To end it.”


Tosses a flat rock

Into the void

Eyes follow

The long descent

“I never killed myself

When I wanted to.


Never threw myself

On my sword over defeats

I can’t recall now.

Never flang myself

Off a cliff

Over scores of women

I no longer remember.”


Old man digs his pocket

Pats his other pockets

Looking for his pipe.

“I never gloated sufficiently

On my amazing successes

Over the efforts of others

(Those escape my mind

These days)

To make anyone want

To kill me enough to

Actually do it.”


Tamps the pipe

Frets with a match

“I was astute enough

To recognize early

When you bed

Another man’s woman

She’ll eventually tell him.

She mightn’t say who,

But she’ll always say what

And if he’s smart

He’ll puzzle out the who.

That’s a worthy thing

To keep in mind.”


Pipe bowl sparked

Glowed, smoke

Curled around him

“I’ve always lived hard

Pushed the envelope

Hung it out over the edge.

I’d rather have died early

Than not done that


But I always kept good tires

On whatever mechanical

Critter I was depending on

To get me back

Always kept the brakes

In good shape.  And

I was damned lucky.”


They sit silent

Watch the shadows

Crawl into arroyos

Far below



From Poems of the New Old West

Copyright 2002©Jack Purcell

Bypass on the Great Divide

For several months after Jack moved back to town after y2k, he had a night job as a hotel clerk at a Travelodge where modern country music was constantly piped in and couldn’t be turned off. I recently found some papers that came from that time and found something he had written during his shift. I’m copying it exactly as I found it scribbled:

In the last 45 years baby boomers have been the driving force behind music sales. They brought us bop, then rock and roll, R&B, the Beatles, folk, folk rock, acid rock, and outlaw country. Then they began to drop the ball and the younger crowd began to take over– ended up with endless rap, and Country fell to wailing love ballads.

Baby boomers tuned out in a tragic replay of the 70’s, but this time they did it in the musical manifestation: they turned down their hearing aids.

The result has been the drivel incessant caterwauling that dominates the airways today– effeminate men and hairy-chested women proclaiming endless love. No more cheating, getting drunk, hopping trains, going to prison, missing hound dogs, dying in car wrecks, remembering mama.  No more low sentiments and lower experiences. All whining through orthodontics.

If we don’t want to spend our golden years listening to this trash we’ve got to get back into the driver’s seat. We’ve got to get some music baby boomers can identify with. Pull those teeth out of the water glass and tune back in.
So I wrote this song- seed corn for the next wave in C&W. I call it “Bypass on the Great Divide.” Cock your head so you can see through those bifocals and hum along:

Westbound on the interstate
Out on the Great Divide
Our Winnie overheated
So we pulled off to the side.

The sagebrush and the redrock
invoked our reverie
While the engine cooled I thought about
My bypass surgery.

You can have your diabetes
and your special brand of “C”
But when heat-waves blur the mesas
I’ll take bypass surgery.

We’ll be turning off at Flagstaff
for the fairways to the south:
My third ex-wife will meet us
with my grandkids and her mouth

Those two eggs up on whisky toast
and home fries on the side
she always made for breakfast
were my downfall and her pride.

You can have your diabetes
and your special brand of “C”
But when heat-waves blur the mesas
I’ll take bypass surgery.

So we’ll take the brats along with us
and camp somewhere below
the International Boundary
buying meds in Mexico.

Cause it’s not the margaritas
nor the senoritas sweet
It’s the discount pharmaceuticals
that tug these flattened feet.

Now the engine’s finished cooling
and the wheels begin to roll
and there ain’t no bloody stool
in the RV commode bowl.

You can have your diabetes
and your special brand of “C”
But when heat-waves blur the mesas
I’ll take bypass surgery.

Now. Let’s get busy and hear some songs about ’49 Fords, Joe Stalin, moon disks and fender skirts, the Korean War, the Berlin Crisis. 6 volt car batteries and flathed V-8s. Skirts with hoops. Saddle loafers. Cushman eagles. Red Ryder BB guns. Let’s argue whether Roy Rogers or Gene Autry was the king of the cowboys. Scandalize the grand kids with Roy and Dale, travelling salesmen, and Johnny Fuckerfaster jokes.


Amazing Instant Pain Relief

3.22.03 and back ups 095

Shrine of the Perfect Man, Columbus, NM

Jack wrote this in October, 2006:

Have you ever heard anyone say, “Wow!  I just put out my eye with a nail-gun!  Thank you Lord (Universe, Goddess, Higher Self, Coincidence Coordinators, or whatever the person happens to hold sacred)!”

Probably you haven’t.  Not many people know it’s a profoundly effective way of causing pain to diminish or vanish entirely.

I usually don’t even remember to pass it on, though my Y2K and since friend, Jeanne, has seen it work.  She might use it. (Somehow I think she doesn’t because she’s always calling me long distance to help her get rid of a sore throat, headache and the like.) (Note from Jeanne: I use it, but with slightly less success).

Try it.

  • Go find a hammer, put your thumb, thumbnail upward, on the front step.
  • Draw the hammer over your shoulder and smash hell out of that thumbnail as hard as you’re able.
  • The moment your vision changes to a nuclear fireball, shift gears mentally and say, “Thank you Lord.”

Doesn’t matter whether you’re a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist or atheist.  You’ll be amazed.

See for yourself.

I don’t know of any better demonstration of the power of gratitude.



Book Thoughts


Jack wrote this in October, 2006:

The village is trying to get a library started, so I paused in my various re-readings off my own bookshelves to check out library books.   I was familiar with some of the authors I began with, but had been long since reading them.

Elmore Leonard –  I ran through a plethora of his books in a short time.. everything the library had.  I’ve never read a book by the man I didn’t like, whether it’s the westerns he began with, or the detective stories that later became his tour de force.  I recommend him to anyone in danger of doing some light reading.  However, I came across one that’s unlike any Elmore Leonard I’ve ever read.  The Touch.  Those of you into metaphysics and healing would probably find it of interest.  It’s the best handling of the stigmata phenomenon, guruism, and commercial evangelism that I’ve ever read.

Rudolpho Anaya – This guy came highly recommended by the librarian.  Sorry folks.  I came away thinking some editor somewhere dropped the ball on the three books I checked out.  Loose sloppy writing, wordy, rambling.  I suspect editors are a lot more forgiving of ethnic writers these days and mooshy metaphysical gawdawful rambling flashbacks than I ever encountered as a writer.  150 pages of Rudolpho Anaya would have benefited by a lot of cutting, brutal rewriting, and still ended up with maybe 75 pages worth the time.  Maybe.

Nevada Barr – Never heard of her, but I thought I’d give it a try.  Checked out three books, made it twenty-five pages into one and declared, “No more!”

Elizabeth M. Cosin – I check a couple of these out because the first one was named Zen and the City of Angels.  I’m willing to try what I don’t know, and the name of the yarn brought back pleasant memories of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  Checked out two.  Score, zero-two.  They’ll go back in hopes someone else can struggle through them.

Poul Anderson – checked out The Stars are Also Fire because I recall liking Anderson’s work several decades ago.  The Boat of a Million Years comes to mind.  It was a fine work.  However, this Stars are Fire piece seems to me to be the work of a person who needed to smoke some weed to get his mind back, or a manuscript written early in his career, a dead turkey no publisher would touch by an unknown writer, dragged up out of the files and published as a pot-boiler hack to raise grocery and whiskey money, riding the name of the later, more competent Poul Anderson.  I’m 67 pages into it, debating with myself whether to drop the effort and read some William Saroyan off my own shelf until I get back to the library tomorrow.

I’d like to point out to you that the sentence-before-the-last in the previous paragraph is five lines long.  Count’em.  Five.

No good writer would put a sentence that long on a page where some poor human might read it.


Life Story… (up to about 2013)

JackCDbackupJune03 127

It occurred to me that since Jack hadn’t blogged for so long, some people might enjoy seeing a short summary of his life that he wrote while he was living in Texas, before he moved to Kansas and then eventually to the Leavenworth VA complex apartments. –Jeanne

Born 1943, mom went through three divorces by the time I was four, moving about from Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. Did grunt labor on farms and ranches weekends and after school all through my youth. Summer after junior year of HS I thought I’d quit school, so I followed the wheat harvest north into the Dakotas operating various equipment and hauling grain. Decided to try to finish HS after all. Found a town where I could manage it barely.

Joined the army after graduation, served three years, entered and eventually got booted out of Peace Corps training. Worked for a railroad a while, a dredging company, longshoring on the Houston docks, taxicab driving in Houston, going to the University of Houston nights, the University of Texas working construction on the side.

Made a living as a writer for a couple of years, then entered the first of two professional careers for about 20 years, Eventually decided what I was doing didn’t need to be done, so I changed professions for about 10 years until I decided that didn’t need doing either. Meanwhile I’d begun research on a particular lost gold mine and making trips west looking for it, became a pilot and bought an old airplane. Second career gradually became a way to support the search for the lost gold mine.

Y2K was coming up and I came to believe it would happen, so I cashed in all my retirement from two careers and bought a remote piece of land on the continental divide, built a cabin and began preparing to help all the refugees I believed would be coming out of the cities. When it didn’t happen I stayed around there about a year trying to figure out what to do next.

I did some of everything for the next decade, wild years of craziness among the sort of people I’d never been around, nor wished to. Eventually I ended up up destitute and supremely happy in this remote cabin in the Texas Hill Country with four cats and a flock of free-ranging chickens.

Surveillance Weirdness

Jack wrote this in October, 2006:

3.22.03 and back ups 1001


This brave new century offers a lot of interesting twists and turns for the observant.  I was reading a blog this morning, someone ruminating over a friend-request he’d gotten from someone, maybe in India.

I’d gotten a similar request yesterday, so it caused me to consider whether blogs aren’t being used by intelligence and law-enforcement agencies, both here and abroad, to find folks with particular sets of viewpoints.

For instance, I came across a blog the other day posted by a person who called himself something like ‘dope-smuggler’.  Hmmm, thinks I, is this for real?  The blog entries and photos all involved various aspects of the use of controlled substances.

Suppose I worked for DEA, I went on thinking.  Would I throw out a trot-line or two searching for folks who’d like to admit on blogs that they were felons?  I think I might.

Or suppose I worked for Mossad  (I think that’s the right spelling), the Israeli intelligence agency.  Would I like to know as many names and locations of people who held Nazi-like viewpoints?  Would I be equally interested in folks who rabidly approve of anything Israel might do?  Probably.

And so on.  But that’s not what this blog is about.

This blog is about what’s happened with surveillance technology and general nosiness, both of government and individuals.

The technology and availability of spying equipment with amazing capabilities and invisibility at a shockingly low price is out there for anyone.

At least it was shocking and amazing to me when I found myself moved to investigate the matter.

One day I’d been sitting at a blackjack table for about twelve hours, and when I got to my car in the parking lot my cell-phone rang.  I answered and was treated to hearing a long playback of my conversations at the game-table several hours earlier.  I thought back and recalled a guy who sat next to me for a while wearing an unusual fanny-pack he kept messing with, so I figured it was him.

But his motive for doing such a thing was a mystery, and how he happened to know my cell-phone number was one, as well.

That happened several times, the casino playback thing, but I only saw that particular person once, and when he took the chair next to me I asked him if he had his equipment with him.  “Oh yeah,” he answered with a laugh.  “I always carry everything with me.”  And left the table.

During the same time-period Jeanne was in New Mexico.  We were in the living room, me standing, her sitting across the room, having a conversation.  The land-line phone rang and I answered.  Similarly to the casino experience, I had a conversation played back to me, but this time it was the conversation Jeanne and I’d just had within the past five minutes.

Someone obviously had the capability to listen to what was said in my home.  But what’s intriguing to me is that they wanted me to KNOW they had that capability.

That happened a couple more times and I could never see any signs around the house of any microphone/camera, but it was obviously here.  From then until now I’ve gotten spam emails I don’t open, but with subject lines referring to something or other that’s happened in my life, said or done, recently.

Which confirms for me that I am one helluva interesting guy.  I cannot for the life of me imagine why anyone would put that kind of effort, energy and expense into my life, but I do try to provide with them with some amusement in various ways.

Sometimes I figure it’s the rich neighbor kid, sometimes I think it’s the neighbor across the street next-door to my buddy, Wes, who’s generally known to be a negative busybody.  But that doesn’t quite fit the casino incidents.

I haven’t a clue.

But after the first phone-at-home incident Jeanne and I went to a surveillance store and looked over what was out there on the open market.  After seeing it, I decided we live in a time when it’s useless to think there are any secrets, any privacy, if anyone’s determined enough to want to know, sick enough to be willing to put out a few bucks and plant a device.

Flattering, though, knowing that despite the fact I don’t talk to anyone but the cats these days unless I’m on the phone, I’m still one hell of an interesting feller.