Monthly Archives: July 2020

Hack Writing

Hack Writing

“Give me a 750 word
How crushed ice
Can be used
On construction sites
To slow the cooling
And surface cracking
Of freshly poured
Make it lively
Make it dance

I want it yesterday
We’ll argue
Three months from now
When you see the check.”

“Give me 2000 words
To titillate
Give me that whorehouse
That famous Chicken Ranch
In La Grange, Texas.
I want pockets picked
I want gonorrhea
I want luscious bitches
And hints of corruption
Deep in Texas
Law enforcement

I want it yesterday
We’ll argue
Three months from now
When you see the check.”

“I want 2000 words
Something about
Beautiful Vietcong bitches
Luring innocent GIs
To bed and death
In some stinking thatched hut
With pigs squealing outside
I want to see her despair
Her soul searching
As she discovers she loves him

I want a hint of non-fiction.

We’ll argue
Three months from now
When you see the check.”

“I want a poem
About how you feel
When your lover
Jilts you
In favor of someone
Of his own sex
And begins
Taking hormones.

I want the word
Used in every
Third line.

No pay
You just have
The pleasure
And satisfaction
Of doing what I
Told you to.
To help you
Get used to the feel
Of being a writer”

From Poems of the New Old West, Jack Purcell, copyright 2002

Swine Flu

Jack wrote this in November, 2005. I guess his background in history and public health made him a prophet of sorts. ~Jeanne

Morning blogsters:

Having some difficulties getting the juices flowing this morning.  When I don’t get up at 5 am, when I allow myself to lie there and savor how good it is inside that cocoon of blankets, screws up my entire day.

I was down in Rio Rancho at the food store the other day, saw a long line of people waiting to get flu shots.  Seems there’s a new strain out there to be scared silly about gonna kill us all if we don’t get shots.

Maybe.  I suppose it might happen someday, probably will.

1918 made a big impression on the world how fast and unexpected a virus can move to bunch up the time-span of folks for folks dying all close together, instead of spreading it out and letting them die scattered across the calendar.

People remember 1918… the graveyards remind them.  That line of graves out there with so many 1918, 19, dates surrounded by other times just sort of shotgunned in.

But what people  don’t remember is the Swine Flu scare of 1976.

Good year, that one.  It was the year we all didn’t die of swine flu whether we had inoculations, or didn’t.  It was a year a lot like this one, but my first year in public health.  Lines a mile long for shots, no amount of money and human energy too great to expend saving us all from dying of the Y2K of the viral set.

The fact they’re talking aloud of such things at the Center for Disease Control says a lot about who’s left over there at CDC.  The ones who remember the black eye public health took from the Swine Flu scare would never have allowed it.  I have to conclude they’ve all retired and there a lot of young lions now watching for micro-organisms to be afraid of and make announcements about for possible budget increases.

Looking for a hole in the pandemic of panic-hunger they can slip an announcement into and see it grow and blossom.

Which is fine if someone who didn’t get shots dies.

And it’s Y2K, if it doesn’t.

When the real, bullgoose bug comes storming out of Africa or Asia nobody’s going to listen.  But 1918, reaches out here into 2005 and testifies on oath that it can happen and probably will.

I’m guessing this ain’t it.  The bug has killed maybe 60-70 people and has been around long enough already to get people scared.

Mr. Bad News ain’t gonna come down the pike thataway.  He’s going to come balling down the freeway leaving a trail of hair, teeth and eyeballs behind him in his wake and nothing but clear open highway ahead, except people scurrying around ducking and dodging trying to get out of the way.

Likely he’ll be transmitted airborne, long enough incubation time so’s a person throws him off a long while before the victims even know they’re sick.  So you get everyone infected well before the first ones begin to get the blind staggers.

Second cup of coffee here and I still don’t have my mind out of the cage… still can’t feel any enthusiasm for dragging up those spreadsheets and trying to figure out where those numbers came from last night, for trying to reconstruct their route and itinerary.

Ah well.


Emails to the past

Jack wrote this in March, 2006:

Building on the idea beginning on the last blog entry, here’s another one I’d consider sending:

To be delivered January 1, 2002.

“Hi Guy,

“This is me again, talking to you from 2006.

“You are in for a lot of strange experiences over the next few years, and some profoundly difficult times.  You’re going to do a lot of things you’ve never dreamed of doing, just to get by month-to-month.

“I can tell you now:

“Don’t waste your time trying to get teaching jobs, any job where you can take advantage of your education and job history.  Save yourself a lot of energy and discouragement.

“That part of you is gone.  They don’t want any white male in his late 50s, no matter what he might have done in the past.  You are going to have to become really good at some unconventional approaches to survival to just squeeze by without going to live under a bridge somewhere.

“All that Y2K credit history and the mistooken belief the IRS would collapse is catching up with you.

“You’ve always succeeded in everything you did.  Now you’re basing your decisions on that history, but you’re failing to comprehend that everything’s changed.  Don’t waste your life in all those months of self-doubt and guilt, judging yourself against a set of standards and assumptions you learned from Grand-dad and you’ve always tried to live by. 

“Those are dead.

“You are still you.  You’re still strong, and you still have a million things to be grateful for.  What those human resources departments believe is meaningless, doesn’t say a thing about whom and what you are because they reject you.

“You’ve always relied on yourself and you now have to start doing it again in ways you never thought possible.  You are about to have to become a person living in the shadows, off the government paperwork, inside the underground economy.  The sooner you understand there’s no place for you in the ordinary job market the better off you’ll be.

  • Old Deano, over in Belen’s going to try to talk you into learning blackjack.  You’ll want to shrug and resist.  My advice to you, is ponder it.  Don’t resist so hard, but don’t believe anything he, nor anyone else tells you about the nuts and bolts of playing it until you study it all and think it through.  What’s said by the experts is largely BS.
  • There’s a meth cook named Dan who’s about to drop into your life and offer to take you on as a bodyguard.  I’m not going to suggest you don’t do it, but I’m going to tell you without reservation that meth cooks and meth users are on a growth path that’s too far from yours to allow you to remain around them long.  Do what you have to do, but don’t even for a minute believe Dan, nor any of the rest of them can be trusted.  When things begin to go sour cut it off fast and clean.

“You, my friend, are entering a brave new world.  Savor every minute of it.  Maybe I’ll send you an email occasionally to hint you along.

“Hang in there amigo.  You can do it.

“Yourself 10,000 blackjack hands into the future,”


Emails to the future

Jack wrote this in March, 2006:

Morning blogsters:

Someone showed me a website where a person can send emails to be delivered to themselves at some specified future time.  Interesting thought.  (Note from Jeanne:

What’s more interesting, however, is that a person’s allowed to have those emails to his future self posted for the public to read, though those are anonymous.

It’s a study in the way a lot of people view themselves.

One intriguing shot some 16 year old fired at his 22 year old self,

“I hope you’re out of the Marine Corps by now.  If you aren’t, you are an idiot.”

A 16er who ain’t yet in the Gyrenes telling his future self he hopes he’s out by now and implying going in was a mistake???

But what’s most puzzling is the way so many are lecturing their future selves.

“I hope you own fifteen rent houses by now and are driving a Corvette.  If not, you’ve been procrastinating.  Get busy.”

Evidently a lot of people are going along on the assumption they’re as wise now as they’ll be five or ten years from now, and that the person they’ll be won’t shudder, nor blush that HERE’s what they used to be.  Here’s how they used to think.  Whew.

“No wonder my life is such a mess if THAT’s where I came from”, they’ll be saying.

One cute one some young adult of indeterminate age was addressed to him/herself to be delivered, January 1, 2013.  It congratulates the future self for being there to read the email, reminding about how he/she had been into Mayan prophesy predicting the end of the world in 2012.


Got me thinking, what’s really needed is a site where we can send emails to be delivered to ourselves at specified times in the past.

For instance, I could send one to me for delivery January 1, 1999.

“Hi guy.

“You just took your retirement funds out of their safe haven, retired, and you’re getting ready to go off and prepare for the collapse of civilization. 

  • “You think the banks, the IRS, everything’s going deep South a year from now. 
  • “You think buying that land on installments is a smart move, that the money’s better spent buying food, shelter, barter items, medications, for hoards of refugees that will be coming out of the cities.  Because,
  • “You think when civilization collapses the taxes, the installments, even paper cash will be gone, kaput.

“I don’t want to influence you about most of what you’re going to do during the next year, but I do have a couple of suggestions.

  • “First, notice I’m sending you this email by computer from 2006.
  • “Second, ask yourself what you’re going to do if the lights don’t go out.
  • “Third, store your retirement cash you’re depending on in case Y2K doesn’t happen in a metal container where the rats can’t get to it. (Trust me on this one.  Just do it and don’t ask any questions.)

“Other than that, you’re doing fine, sport.  Just go on with what you were doing when you opened this email.

“From the man you’re going to be seven HARD years from now,”


“PS – There’s a website out there where you can answer this email and have it delivered to me now.  Don’t bother.  I  was you once.  I remember all about it.  You don’t have anything to say I don’t know already.

“PPS – Start learning as much as you can learn about playing blackjack.  You’re going to need it.”

The lessons of history a leader does learn

Jack wrote this in September, 2005:

Uncle Joe Stalin used to chuckle about his people, about his staunch supporters.  He laughed to Nikita Kruschev about how they’d cheer those Russians, or his henchmen, when he picked some new group of scapegoats to herd into the boxcars to haul off to the gulag camps.

Until the NKVD came knocking on their own doors, which, Stalin wryly observed, took a lot of the joy out of it.  In his own way, Uncle Joe was an honest man with a surprising self-knowledge, for a psychopath.

Stalin thought it was humorous, the way he could get his people all worked up about how badly blacks were treated in America, how terrible things were in Germany to take their minds off how things were at home when crops failed, when production quotas dropped.

Joe Stalin died a few years after WWII, but the world learned a lot from him.  Leaders all over the world learned how easy it is to divert the attention of the masses away from whatever’s wrong close in around them, to cast blame and create scapegoats inside the country and focus the anger of the people on them.  To trumpet minor victories as though they were giants.  To blame every failure on traitors and conspirators.  To have mindless puppets shouting his brainwash over the radio waves constantly, daily.

Joseph Goebbels learned a lot from Joe Stalin.  He’s still using what he learned.

In his own unique, selective way, the US president does learn from history, as most of them have since their hero died.


The price of justice

Jack wrote this in February, 2006:

I was drawn to the feed on Bud’s site.  Couldn’t resist reading it.

Seems the deputy sheriff folks in Florida have had sex with prostitutes four times recently in the pursuit of getting evidence to convict the ladies for criminal behavior.

One of the deputies was so grateful he left a $350 tip of public funds.  Great illustration of the kinds of sacrifices police officers have to make to serve and protect, all in the line of duty.  Unsung heroes.

When the information became public the Sheriff was asked whether he approved.  Paraphrasing his reply, “It’s necessary to get convictions.  This isn’t anything new.”

The contortions and expense our government’s going to in order to prosecute and punish crimes without victims  qualifies as a form of insanity, if we needed to see another.

Those prostitutes will likely have their day in an expensive courtroom, go to prison a couple of years at public expense, and return to the streets, justice having been served.

Meanwhile, those deputies  will be out there collecting more evidence.

The Gastronome

 Intelligence and language;

Pathogenic curses

To obscure;

To conceal

What any ant would know;

His kilobyte of brain

Large enough

To discern

Beeswax from earwax.


From Poems of the New Old West

Copyright 2002, Jack Purcell



I doubt it comes as any surprise to anyone that law officers are lacking in compunctions about prosecuting others for doing what they’re guilty of in an official capacity.

There’s a reason police officers in most states don’t go through routine the drug testing required of other public employees.  Particularly public employees driving vehicles on the job, making judgements about hot pursuits through busy streets and whatnot.

What’s changed is that now, instead of denouncing such behaviors when the officers get caught, the sheriff supports it and calls it ‘duty’.

Anyone who has ever worked in an environment where scandalous, or illegal practices extended to high management levels is familiar with what you see here.

The mail room boy announces, “If I go down, everyone here goes down with me!”

But the root-cause is the victimless crime and flawed human beings given the power to take advantage of it.  To make victims of victimless criminals.  The flesh is weak.



Cabazon – a poem of sorts


View of Cabazon from Placitas, NM




Bulging motion cauldron cloud of stone

Patchy layer of brief life paint

Boils against the swirl of mist

Caresses swift changes of sky

And seasons

Sleepy knuckles on the skull of earth

What do you ponder?


Promontory above the sweeping distance

Falling, sliding into basin of the eons

This flea of life across the flash of moment

Longs to feel your numbness

To the march of time

Your wisdom of silence


From Poems of the New Old West

Copyright©2002, Jack Purcell

Growing cojones as a means to end discrimination

Jack wrote this in March, 2006:

Hi blogsters:

I’ve been reading a number of blogs and having my mind boggled.

Seems there’s a lot of whining going on in a lot of areas, but imprisonment is a major one:

  • Blacks rightfully noting that the prisons are mostly full of blacks, wanting something to be done about that,
  • Hispanics believing Hispanics, particularly illegals, are profiled and targeted for more searches than other groups and not getting a fair shake in the court-system because they’re Hispanics,
  • Native Americans doing a LOT of whining because a lot of them are in prison for reasons they consider unjust,
  • Muslims concerned something similar to WWII Japanese American camps will emerge if there’s more terrorism in the US,
  • Political dissenters being concerned they’re the next target.

I’ve got some news for you, brothers and sisters.  This isn’t an ethnic problem.  It isn’t a religious problem.  It isn’t even a political dissent problem.

This is a problem of a criminal justice system left the pavement and gone airborne.

You blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, political dissenters, Muslims, those prisons are also full of whites and Asians.  If this is going to be stopped you have to begin to realize there’s no percentage to fragmentation…  strength is in unity.

To end this prison problem we have to quit sending people there.  Those juries aren’t all white.  Many include several ethnic groups with whites as a minority.

All it takes to keep a fellow American out of jail is one jury member of any race, religion or ethnic group to say NOT GUILTY.  Period.

If you blacks, whites, Hispanics, Muslims, Native Americans want this problem solved you’re going to have to start saying NO, one at a time.

You’re going to have to say NOT GUILTY

  • when that woman is being tried for selling herself on the street, whether she’s guilty or ain’t, whatever her race.
  • When that man who got caught with a packet in his pocket or a bale of jade in the trunk of his car comes before you.  Regardless of his skin color.
  • When anyone comes before you as a jury member for any victimless crime.
  • And you’re going to have to keep on saying it no matter what the other jury members think about it.

And when a cop, a judge, an attorney comes before you

  • accused of manipulating evidence,
  • planting evidence,
  • lying on the witness stand,

you are going to have to say GUILTY and hang on to it until the other jurors agree with you so they can go home, or there’s a hung jury.

When a cop comes before you for

  • beating the hell out of someone in custody,
  • raping him/her,
  • killing him/her,

you are going to have to say GUILTY and tell the judge you recommend the maximum sentence.

When you have a friend, a relative, a co-worker serving on a jury for a victimless crime, explain to them you’re going to spit in their lunch, give them a dose of clap, put a black-widow spider in their desk drawer if they vote to convict.

As for other matters involving religion or politics, there’s time to deal with that when the time comes.

But for now, prove you have a brain bigger than a walnut.

Start looking past your own skin color, religion, ethnicity, and develop enough cojones to fucking say NO.



Another Side of the Coin- Mel King

Jack wrote this in March, 2006:


The hoopla about the dead cop in Tijeras got me thinking about my old friend, Mel King, and another dead cop just down the road from this one in Mountainair, New Mexico, in 1987. 

That one changed Mel’s life in a multitude of ways, for all the remainder of it.  I posted this on another blog December 21, 2005, the anniversary of his death:

If I ever write another book, Mel King will have to occupy a few chapters of it.  I’ve mentioned him a few times on this blog, but mostly, I’ve not been able to write much about him at all.  I’m still digesting what happened to him.

On one of the threads recently the discussion drifted to the War on Drugs.  I suppose if I’d never met Mel I probably wouldn’t have thought much about that issue, would never have bothered to form an opinion about it.

But in many ways, Mel was a product of that war, from the time it began during the Reagan Administration, he was one of the adversaries.  It changed him from a small-time marijuana growing woods-vet to a wealthy man.  When the ‘war’ drove the price of jade sky-high he was approached by a number of ranchers in the area, asked to teach them how to grow weed in quantity.  He became their broker, as well as a grower.

The War on Drugs involved Mel in a major felony arrest, confiscation of much of his property, caused the mysterious death of a police officer, got Mel targeted repeatedly on America’s Most Wanted television series, and constant harassment by the FBI, State Police and local police for the remainder of his life.

They wanted to believe he killed a Mountainair, NM, police officer because it was the only construction of the facts that didn’t expose the rotten core of the War on Drugs.  If Mel didn’t kill that cop, another cop, or cops, almost certainly did.


Shortly before he was murdered in December, 2004, he showed me an anonymous, hand-written letter accusing him of killing the policeman and threatening to come balance it all.  The undertone and nuances of the letter suggested it was written by another member of the ‘policeman brotherhood’ who wanted to even things out, not because he knew the dead cop, but because a person doesn’t get suspected of killing a cop and get by with it.

It’s time I began writing down a few things about Mel King anyway.

Mel King was a major, financially successful marijuana grower and large-scale broker in New Mexico for many years.  During that time he was also a long-term heroin addict.  (He first became addicted to morphine while in the hospital recovering from wounds he got in the Marine Corps in Vietnam).

The only way Mel got away with what he was doing for so many years was by being considered a complete maniac, and by making certain the authorities got their fair share of the proceeds.  He drove around in a VW van with bullet-holes in the windshield from the inside

When he got busted in 1987, with 150 pounds in his house it was because he made himself too big a nuisance to be allowed to go on.  He was attracting too much attention.

But even so, he never came to trial.  That 150 pounds of high-grade vanished from the evidence lockers.  The empty bags with his evidence numbers on them were found in the home of the policeman who made the initial stop during his arrest.  But someone murdered that policeman, probably for the marijuana, which is how they happened to find the empty evidence bags.

While he was in jail awaiting bail, Mel resolved to turn his life around.  He freed himself from heroin and when he was released he started a successful furniture business, did his best to stay clean for the remainder of his life.  Succeeded in being a trustworthy, successful man and one of the best friends I’ve ever had.

mel and kentai2

Mel and Kentai

During the years I knew him, Mel was a deeply spiritual man.  He was honest, guileless, hard-working, sincere, courageous, and in many ways, wise.  We prospected a lot of canyons together, talked of many things over campfires listening to the wind in the pines.  He was also my partner during Y2K.

Mel and I disagreed on many things, but he believed, as I do, that he knew what happens to a man when he dies.  He never feared death and he never believed he’d done anything in this life to give him any reason to fear it.

I believe he was right.


Ask Old Jules: God Speaks, End of World, Is Life Cheap, Racism/Bigotry

Harper, TX 2010 123

Old Jules, do you believe that GOD speaks through others?

If so, God speaks through too many others to allow any sense to be made of it.

Old Jules, what would you do if the world was going to end in 10 minutes?

Scratch the cats behind the ears, put on Leonard Cohen singing ‘Closing Time’ and go outdoors with a pair of binoculars to see whether I can spot some Christians being raptured out.

Old Jules, why is human life not cheap?

It’s cheap sometimes. Cambodia for a while, the Stalin era gulags, Spain during the Inquisition, Hitler’s camps, the Mongol invasion, the 100 year war in Europe, China during the Japanese invasion and later during Mao’s Cultural Revolution.
If it’s not cheap where you are not it’s because you are lucky in time and place.

Old Jules, what is the most interesting thing you know?

That there’s no relationship between knowing something and it being true.

Old Jules, ever fallen in love with the IDEA of love?

I believe you’ve identified one of those rarely recognized differences between women and men, as generic creatures [keeping in mind there are exceptions to the stereotypes].
Women, almost all women, do.
Men don’t.

Old Jules, aside from death and taxes, what else do you think is bound to happen in life?

Any time you find a used wheel barrow for sale it will have a flat tire.

Old Jules, what’s the difference between racism and bigotry?

Racism is just a particular manifestation of a larger human mental trait, bigotry. Bigotry exists more-or-less universally among humans, though they deny it for the most part and only recognize it in others than themselves.

Old Jules, what about you has inspired another? Has anyone made a gesture, read a book you recommended, voted differently because of you?

In 1967, I had a DUMP JOHNSON ’68 bumper-sticker on my Nash Metropolitan. Johnson heard about it and decided not to run again.