Monthly Archives: June 2013

Picking your symbolism: The biggest food bird, or the biggest predator?

hero patriot2

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Hydrox, Niaid and I were out in the RV a little while ago, two of we three scurrying for new places to hide every time a new dash of thunder rolled across the landscape, rain pelting the roof and some edifying lightning to season it all.

Finally the drama ended, but the rain continued a while and the cats decided the world wouldn’t end.  I sat there gazing across the meadow, opened a side window to let the odor of fresh rain inside.  Something big moved around the other RV ……. six wild turkeys grazing on apple cores I’d thrown out the window.  Occasionally letting out enough turkey noise to scare the bejesus out of the cats and have them scurrying for cover.

Watching those turkeys got me thinking about how they were runners-up to become the National Bird, once.  This is no BS.

Time was when most of the people in this country were acutely aware they had relatives, distant cousins somewhere, still laboring for nothing, starving to death, fighting wars and living under the iron heel of aristocrats.  Aristocrats who had histories as far back as anyone could remember of using the biggest predatory bird anyone could think of as a symbol of what aggressive sons-of-bitches they were.

Eagles.  Imperial eagles.  Regal Eagles.  Birds that didn’t do a damned thing but come down out of the sky and kill anything they could catch.  Birds nobody anywhere ever ate.

So a lot of people in this new land thought they’d donealready had everything they wanted to do with eagles and starving, and having heavy heels on their necks by a bunch of damned aristocrats.  They figured if they were going to pick a bird to symbolize the way of life they wanted, a the biggest bird people could make a meal of would be a good symbol.

A symbol of common people with full bellies for a change.  A symbol of people being able to go out into the woods and get a wild meal without some aristocrat telling them that deer, or turkey, or rabbit belonged to them, the aristorcrat, and common people would do better to starve than get caught eating one.

Well, friends and neighbors, we donealready had an aristocracy putting itself together, deciding whether we wanted to be represented by the biggest predatory bird with a complete history of aggression, repression and exploitation.  They knew whether they wanted to be represented by a turkey, or a Regal Eagle.

You can look around you and see which one they picked.  And you can consider the 50 tons of laws they’ve made since they adopted that eagle for their symbol, the several tons they’ll pass this year, and know why they picked it.  50 tons of laws telling you what you can’t do, a few tons more this year.

But you have the satisfaction of knowing you have a proud bird for a national symbol.  Not some damned turkey you could make a meal of in a pinch if there weren’t a law against it.

Old Jules

Don’t take any chances – CC all your emails and posts to the NSA

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Got to thinking last night before I slid off to sleep, “What if the NSA ain’t reading my emails and other stuff I write?  What if some get lost in the shuffle, or worse, what if they just aren’t interested enough to read mine?

How damned de-humanizing is THAT?

Sheeze!  Brought me spang awake with a start.  Those bastards might be going flaccid on the job, reading everyone elses’ stuff, but not mine.

I thought about it a while as I scratched niaid behind the ears, got up and took my third [under pressure] cold shower of the day, dried off and scratched Hydrox behind the ears pondering it.

Still felt insecure and de-machoed, so I kicked on the AC unit for a few minutes to knock the edge off the cold sweat I was breaking out in.

Okay.  First crack out of the box, this ain’t something I’m going to sit still for, ain’t going to tolerate it.  Those bastards are going to read my stuff whether they like it or not.  I’m going to put them on the list of CCs for all my emails, and if I can find out who my senator or congressman is, I’ll write them.

See if I can get a congressional committee started to get those guys from NSA in and test them, grill them hard to make sure they aren’t falling down on the job.

Piss me off.

Old Jules

Hungry for heroes? Find a thief, a robber, a killer, or an aristocrat

 frank and jesse james

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

I was thinking last night before I dozed off about what TV, movies and fiction have done for us that reality couldn’t.  I concluded it all boils down to mythology and self definition.  An attempt to bring little guys into a larger picture where, in fact, they don’t exist.

Consider this:  Can you name a single person involved in the American Revolution below the rank of Colonel other than Paul Revere?  Anyone between then and the War of 1812? 

From then until the Mexican War you might recall Nat Turner and his brief slave rebellion, or Davy Crockett, Travis, Sam Houston, et al.  The mountain men and the fur traders.  Meriwether Lewis and Clark, the Kit Carsons, Bridgers, the Coulters and Joe Meeks.  The wild and wooly.

And all the names from the lower paygrades you might recall from the Mexican War are there because they were colonels and higher during the Civil War.

Follow it right on through from then until the Wars and whatever else is happening today.  Where the hell are the lower-paygrade heroes?

Younger, Cole & James left to right

Well, the fact is, they were out there at the time.  They were the outlaws, the killers, the people most successful at taking what didn’t belong to them away from the people it belonged to.  The James Gang, the Daltons, Butch and Sundance, Billy the wossname, Kid, the Youngers.  Buffalo Bill, wiping a species off the face of the continent so’s the trains wouldn’t be troubled by them and cow men could use the land for cows.  Masterson, the Earps, Hickok.  Steely-eyed killers.

The US needed the genre fiction, the film industry and television to clean up history.  The country needed common people out there getting massacred by Apache, Lakota, Comanche, people with names.  People below the rank of colonel with names that weren’t John Jacob Astor and weren’t just getting filthy rich and powerful from it all.

So you want the heroes of the west today?  Well, there’s John Wayne.  Henry Fonda.  Steve McQueen.  Jeff Chandler on the generic Indian side.  Burt Lancaster.  Gary Cooper. 

All of whom also, by coincidence, became the heroes of all the other wars the US fought.  Became the common men of history where none existed before.  Winning the west from the people who owned it, whupping the Germans and Japanese, the Vietcong and NVA, the Chinese and North Koreans. 

All those heroes, frequently below the paygrade of colonel, helping us to understand our great heritage.  Because, after all, our heroes define us in ways we’d be too modest to define ourselves.  Most of us ain’t all that successful at taking shit that doesn’t belong to us, individually.

At least those of us who never got higher than the rank of major.  The aristocratic dynasties went to Washington but the heroes all came out of Hollywood.

Old Jules

Lookee here what I’ve got! Lookee here what I did!

Hi readers. Thanks for coming by for a read.

Tabby: Lookee here what I’ve got!  Lookee here what I did!”

Me:  “Well, Tabby, whatever the hell it is you’ve got, evidently at least it ain’t rabies.  Which is more than I can say for most of the human species.  As for what you did, I admire the time you spent preparing a hole to do it in.  I’m awed by the cable you laid precisely into that hole.  And I’m impressed by the patience you demonstrated and the trouble you took covering it, afterward.”  More than I can say for the human species.


Humane Society Thrift Store cashier [to the old guy ahead of me wearing a ball cap declaring he was once a US Marine]:    “You were a marine?”

Old guy, standing a bit straighter:  “Yes.”

She: Well.  Thank you.  Thank you for ‘being there’.

Old guy:  “Um.”  To himself:  “Well, shit.  Why do you think I’m wearing the cap?  Never done anything else in my life anyone was likely to thank me for.  But I did shoot at some people nobody remembers once a long time ago.  Never figured out exactly why.  But if someone thinks that’s worth thanking me  for, I’ll try to believe them.”


Restaurant in town, two oldsters talking across a table.

Oldster #1:  “Look what they’re doing!  Voting themselves pay raises, benefits.  Giving everything away to the niggers and Mescins!”

Oldster #2: Sons of bitches.  They multiply like rabbits.  Now they’re getting to be voting age, controlling the government.  Half of them can’t even speak English.”

Oldster #1:  “Yeah, bastard Communists!  They don’t believe in democracy!”


Seems to me the great majority of the oldsters I come across, watch, listen to as they interact and try to maneuver around in life, are lost.  Are fools.  No better, no worse than me.  Fools, knowing they spent their lives chasing the illusion that the more shit they could acquire, the wiser they’d be thought to be by someone, somewhere.

Some aren’t well off, sure as hell nobody cares what they think about anything because they didn’t pass the test.  But then there are the others, walking around in golf shirts, loafers, trying to demonstrate by their cars, their bumper stickers, their personal bearing, that they passed the test.  That they know shit someone should want to hear.

Nobody wants to hear it.  Not the oldsters without anything, because they aren’t taking anymore tests.  Not the youngsters because there’s nothing they see to admire in those richer-than-18-inches-up-a-bull’s-ass oldsters.  Nothing they want to emulate except having more shit sooner than the oldsters got it.


Back before civilization kicked in, tribes and villages supposedly thought oldsters were wise, looked to them for guidance, gave them a role in things.  But all that went away when things got complex.  Politicians, aristocrats, academians and priests were assigned the roles oldsters had when things were simpler.

Probably not because politicians, aristocrats, academians and priests were better equipped with wisdom.  But because the oldsters had demonstrated they weren’t.

No smarter, no wiser than they are today.  Maybe it’s time to find some other cadre of fools to replace the politicians, aristocrats, adademians and priests, who’ve had their chance and come up wanting.

How about rappers?  Ganstas?  How about celebrities?  TeeVee stars and rock-and-rollers?  Bikers?

They might not be any good, but they ain’t going to be any worse.

And what they get mightn’t be rabies.

“Six-million focking dollars!”

The Dollar Tree store in Kerrville is located in a strip mall across from the high school stadium.  As I drove by on my way into the mall parking lot I noticed the stadium parking lot across the street was almost full of over-sized white grocery-bags.  Hundreds of white bags taller than a man about four feet to a side.  I squinted, but couldn’t fathom what they were.

After I finished in Dollar Tree I crossed the lanes of traffic and pulled into the stadium parking lot for a closer look.  Still couldn’t figure it out.  But a tree-trimming crew was taking a break there in the parking lot, half-dozen Hispanic guys.

I drove over and rolled down the window, guy in charge strolled up.  “What is all that?”

“Six million focking dollars!  Six million focking dollars of MY money!”

Eh?  You’re saying those bags are full of money?”  Shaking my head.

He laughed.  “They might as well be.”  He pointed to a pile of rolls of Astroturf at the other end of the lot.  “They’re replacing that stuff with the stuff in the bags.  REAL grass is against the law!”  He guffawed and the rest of the crew laughed with him.

  I guess the Kerrville School District must have all the books, computers, teachers, everything else it needs to teach those kids to balance their checkbooks, read, write and cypher.  Got everything it needs to prepare them for life after the nest.

Got $6,000,000 focking dollars lying around to put a new ersatz grass floor on the stadium for the jockstraps to run around on.

Old Jules

When the world ended

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Driving to Kerrville yesterday my mind wandered to the uncle of my ex-wife.  Uncle Ed.  Interesting man.

He was on the staff of Douglas MacArthur during WWII and was one of the first group of people into Japan after they agreed to stop fighting.  Stood on the USS Missouri while the documents were being signed by all the parties and served on MacArthur’s staff for a while when MacArthur was Supreme Commander of Allied Pacific Forces.

Uncle Ed had a lot to say about all that when he could find someone to listen.  I listened a good bit.

Ed thought there were a lot of serious flaws in the Japanese surrender speeches and documents by the Emperor and the other high-ranking Japanese officials.  Fact is, neither the Emperor, nor the high-underlings ever mentioned the word, surrender.  Nothing in any of it contained anything suggestingJapanese Imperial behavior toward the conquered lands was reprehensible, no mention was made of the treatment of prisoners, the tortures, the slaughters.

In fact, the ‘surrender amounted to a Japanese admission they’d tried to do what they thought was best for Asia and Japan, and lacked the moxey to pull it off.  The Emperor confirmed this as his view in a presentation to the Diet four days after the arrival of MacArthur onto Japanese soil.  Immediately following the speech by the Emperor his uncle, Prince somebody-or-other went further and proclaimed Japanese behavior was no different from the behavior of other strong, modern nations.  He pointed out they didn’t take Indochina from the Indochinese, but from the French, didn’t take Malaya from the Malayans, but from the British.  And so on.

Maybe it’s actually no surprise the Mayor of Osaka made his statements recently that the ‘comfort girls’ they forced to serve their troops were just a necessary evil to keep up the morale.

Carolyn’s uncle Ed recalled the Japanese aristocracy was egalitarian in this regard.  He smiled that within five days of the arrival of US troops in Yokohama they’d brought in hundreds of peasant girls to serve in brothels to keep up the morale of occupying US troops.  The money from those whore houses, the supposed, was the first significant US currency to circulate in Japan after the war.  A few hundred thousand GIs need a lot of comforting.

I don’t suppose there’s actually any reason the Japanese today should feel any shame and remorse for the actions of their grandfathers.  Any acknowledgement.  The fact is, Asia remembers for them, even though the US has forgotten.  Of all the countries in the world in danger of flexing their military muscles, probably there’s not one with as many willing hands on whatever it would take to stop them among their potential adversaries.

Digression:  Aside from the deck of the USS Missouri and the whore houses, one of Ed’s most vivid recollections of immediate post-War Japan was that every civilian vehicle he saw ran on charcoal.  Charcoal!  Imagine that!

Old Jules

The Party Never Ends

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

First, I want to thank Bob for the link he provided about Gate Guard jobs, a particular blog entry that swivelled my thinking on the issue entirely.  The issues of wear and tear on the RV because of the dust on the sites, bearings and other wear surfaces, particularly.  Along with everything clogging, electrical connections not making contact, and the bad roads getting to town for groceries all conspired to convince me it’s not the job for this RV, these cats, and this old guy who wants to die before the party of the first part, but after the parties of the second part.

Second, today I’ll be taking it to town for the first time since I got the tags transferred.  Need to pick up something called a ‘deep cycle’ battery to run the various coach functions.  The one that’s on it is dead meat, which I knew when I bought it and used it to argue the guy down a bit on the price I paid.  But it’s got to be replaced.

I’ll also be going by a coin laundry for the first time since I’ve been in Texas to get some clothes back into non-pioneer conditions.

Afterward I’ll go behind all the malls and big stores for packing boxes so’s I can get my belongings out of here and into the storage place.  Everything I can’t carry along right now, winter clothing, that sort of thing.

Thirdly, groceries.  Getting food of types I haven’t been equipped to utilize in a goodly while.  Because everything on that RV WORKS.

Lastly:  I might put the thing through one of those oil change places, get it lubricated, everything checked out for fluid levels, new oil.  Instead of doing it my ownself, which ain’t all that much cheaper and is just one more time-sink.

Life’s a good adventure.  It allows the illusion of forward movement, even standing still, leaning forward, preparing to stagger into the future.

Old Jules

Chinese Sardines

Good morning readers. Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

I doubt I’ve ever mentioned it, but I’ve always been a sardine lover.  Quit buying them when the price went high back there sometime and partly justified quitting because it drove the cats nuts when I opened a can.  Had to sneak around or I’d end up having to share.

So recently I was in the Dollar Tree store and noticed they had a lot of cans of sardines stacked on the shelves at a buck per can.  Big cans of a sort I haven’t seen in a number of decades, takes a can opener to get in there.

As you know, I a suspicious person, so I carefully got out my pocket magnifier and examined the label.   Well!  I’ll be damned!  Chinese!  Chin-freaking-ese sardines!

Well, heck.  What can sardine packing plants do wrong with sardines, thinks I.  You pack them in brine, or oil, or mustard sauce, or tomato sauce, put a lid and label on, and nobody’s going to know they aren’t Scandahoovian sardines.

Bought 20 cans of them, by golly, a lot just packed in brine because I thought I might use a few coaxing Tabby out of being anti-social.

Well, friends and neighbors, it’s entirely possible to screw up sardines.  I’m not sure how they did it, but they just don’t taste right.  And while the cats love the ones packed in oil or brine, they ain’t touching the ones packed in mustard nor those in tomato sauce.

I’m going to have to gut it out and eat those anyway.

How in the world can an ethnic group invent gunpowder and be the first to invent carbon steel, and not be able to can sardines worth eating?

[Hmmm.  To be fair, it’s generally believed the steel thing was an accident.  Slave either fell, or was thrown into a vat of molten iron and someone noted the quality of the product improved.  So a lot of slaves made their way into a lot of vats of molten iron before it was discovered there were other ways of getting the job done.]

But even so, sardines can’t be that tough.  The Scandahoovians don’t even have slaves, haven’t had them since, since, since, sometime back there before canning was invented.

Old Jules

Afterthought:  When you think about it, Chinese steel’s nothing to brag about these days, either.  Maybe they ought to be tossing all those sardines into vats of molten iron instead of canning them.

Speaking of KENM, 1450 on your radio dial circa 1955

This is Monet George talking to you from KENM, Portales, New Mexico.  The peanut  basin of the nation.  And we’ve got a little song here for you today.

The theme song for the station was “My Adobe Hacienda.”

Lord how I hated that song.  They played it at every opportunity.

But they also loved, “Dear Hearts and Gentle People,” which didn’t exactly describe the local population except in fantasy.

Helped them feel better about themselves than they had any business doing.

“Doing What Comes Naturally” actually fit them better and, believe it or not, they liked that one, too.

I suppose “Buttons and Bows” would have resonated with any but the most stalwart souls in Portales, New Mexico, circa 1950-60, and it sure as hell got plenty of play.

Those were the days of “Knock knock” jokes, and the favorite joke around there was, “Knockknock.”  “Who’s there?”  “Kilroy”  “Kilroy who?”  “Kill Roy Rogers!  I’m Gene Autry’s fan!”

KENM was a Gene Autry Fan.

WWII vintage folks ruled the world then.  If it hadn’t been for “Tennessee Waltz”, Bonaparte’s Retreat” and “Fraulein” I expect KENM would have had long silences trying to figure out what to play.

Old Jules

You could jitterbug to it! A weird footnote in music history

This song really pissed a lot of people off in 1958.  The local station, KENM, Portales, New Mexico  [1450 on your radio dial] refused to play it for a while. 

But KENM went off the air at 9PM and most of us first heard it on KOMA, Oklahoma City, same as all the other kids from Texas to North Dakota.  You could pick it up once the local stations shut down.  The leading edge to what was happening.  The 1958 facsimile of the Internet for youth in the Central and Southwestern US.

Rock and Roll was still trying to define itself, trying to separate itself from Rhythm and Blues, and Bop.  Adults were fairly certain it was the work of the devil, same a the Bop.  [I’ve written here somewhere how much trouble I got into doing the ‘Dirty Bop’ without even knowing I was doing it.]  It wasn’t even clear yet that Rock and Roll would be the name that stuck to it. 

So when Pat Boone mixed Rock and Roll with religion he was stepping on a lot of sober, somber toes.

But thanks to KOMA, we heard it anyway.  A kid name Chito Smith stood up on a bench in the locker room after PE class and started singing it, all of us with towels wrapped around us jumping around, snapping our fingers, defying authority, singing, “Wellawellawellawella, everybody’s gonna get religion and glory.”

KENM eventually bent enough to play it.  They were already playing such songs as “Wings of a Dove,” by Hawkshaw Hawkins, and “Sinner Man,” by Brook Benton, anyway, and I suppose they figured those might neutralize the devilish side of every body having a wonderful time up there.

Old Jules