Monthly Archives: March 2021

Ask Old Jules: Uniting the world, Where love comes from, Correcting karma, How to deal with the Ego

Old Jules, how about uniting the world? Can we all love each other unconditionally?

Conditionally or unconditionally there’s not much about us as a species to love. We try to make up for it as individuals to some extent, but the sea can’t resist the tides, the smoke can’t resist the wind.

Old Jules, do you think a healthy mind produces love?

A healthy mind transcends love in favor of something far less ambiguous. A needy, clinging mind produces love. A needy mind, if healthy at all, incorporates a type of health necessary to produce challenges and obfuscations to disguise reality.

Old Jules, how do we work on correcting our karma in this life when we might not be sure what our karma is that we already accumulated?

If you stand back from yourself and observe without bias the challenges you face in your life you’ll get an excellent understanding of the karma you’ve accumulated.

Old Jules,  do you think selfless work purifies consciousness? Because when there is no trace of ego involvement, we can’t produce new karma?

Ego is a tricky, sticky yet slippery thing. Maybe its due to that paradoxical nature that we have yet to really understand why. From what I understand, though, is that if you are aware that it is selfless, and are doing it for intentional selfless reasons, its only really selfish in the fact that you are trying to be selfless to satisfy a desire for egolessness, which in the end only embellishes the actual ego itself. I think the trick is, is to just really appreciate your surroundings, do what you want to do, not get in the way of others but work with them to attain goals together. All the while not worrying about whether it works for or against the ego. I’d liken the ego to a nagging itch, if you just ignore it, it will just vanish. Though you can never really be itchless as long as there’s skin to be itchy and things to irritate it.

Long Day’s Journey into Night: The Unforgiven

Jack wrote this in July, 2005.
Backup cd
The man in the picture is Charlie Nelson.  (Note from Jeanne: I am not sure this is the photo he used originally, but his grandfather is on the left and it may or may not be Charlie on the right.) My step-father, biological father to writer Bobby Jack Nelson.

Charlie harbored a notion for a while that he might make me into a rodeo circuit bull rider, because, he said without a smile, it was a profession a man such as I was likely to become, could ‘fall back on’.

Charlie was a somber, taciturn, unimaginative man who’d left his two preschool sons, Bobby Jack and Billy, with his aging parents to run around unsupervised all over that small town during the war years while Charlie was off doing the North African Campaign.  When he got back those boys didn’t quite understand who he was, and he didn’t show any signs of wanting them to know, so they continued to run loose.

By the time he married my mom, herself a divorced mother of three kids of her own, Bob was 11, or 12, and I was a toddler of 4 who thought Bob hung the moon.  A couple of years later, Bob ran away to California and was gone for six months.  When the cops brought him back and dropped him off at our house, Charlie was sitting in the front room trying to repair a space heater.  He looked up at Bob and said, “Hi,” and Bob said, “Hi Pop..If it’s okay I’d like to come back and live here and try to finish school.”

“Sure.  Probably a good idea.  I hope you do it.”  Charlie went back to working on the space heater.

Bob did, but he never forgave Charlie Nelson, and Charlie was a man who took a lot of forgiving.  Bob spent enough pages maligning the character of Charlie in Keepers, A Memoir, a book that made a middling smash during the late ‘90s, so that it doesn’t need a lot more from me, even though Bob did a lot of it with lies, which also weren’t needed.  The truth would have been enough, and it would have been a lot more intriguing.

When Charlie died in 1972, nobody knew how to find Bob to tell him about it.

I’d spent a good many years trying to find ways and reasons to forgive Charlie for his shortcomings.  He took an impoverished mother of three kids, kept a roof over our heads, food on the table.

I forgave him all the beatings he used to give me because I had to admit, I earned most of them fair and square.  I had it all thought out that he was an unenlightened man, that beatings were just how things were done in those days.  I’d never thought about whether he was beating the other kids, just assumed he was, that it was part of the operating procedures.

I went a quarter-century without any contact from Bob, but during the mid-80s I saw him on television being interviewed about one of his books.  I chased him down and we began having lunch in Austin, occasionally.  One day over lunch at a restaurant Bob and I were discussing Charlie, him griping about the complete indifference, and I mentioned the beatings.

Bob stared at me in disbelief.  “Charlie never cared enough about anyone to give them a beating.”  I was shocked.  So shocked, I was, that when I next saw each of my sisters I asked them whether their memories of Charlie included a lot of beatings.  “No.  I don’t think he ever even gave me a spanking,” was the reply.  “I know he was awfully hard on you that way, but I didn’t get into much trouble.”

Suddenly, a decade-and-a-half after his death, all forgiven and forgotten, I found I had a new, burning hatred for Charlie Nelson of the sort that would have had me dancing on his grave if he hadn’t been cremated.  I had to begin all over with the forgiving, and this time it took a lot longer.  But I eventually managed to get it down to a mild, gut grinding indifference.

But, what I find most enigmatic about it all is that Bob never did.  At the age of 62 he was still seething enough to be gazing at his navel, submerged in self-pity for how hard he had it as a kid.  Enough so to write an entire book about it.

Makes me feel grateful, writing this, that I got some attention, instead of being neglected.

I wrote this with Bob in mind after I read Keepers, A Memoir.  I didn’t remember getting to be third to the bath water until Bob reminded me of it with a tone of lingering resentment many decades later.


The Price of Wealth

Hated Saturday nights;
Being third to
The bath-water
After Mom and Dad
But before the older kids
Felt poor;
He thought he was.
While down the road
His buddy, Joe Cordova
Didn’t have to feel so poor
Because the family
Didn’t have a tub.
Lucky Joe.

From Poems of the New Old West

Copyright 2002, Jack Purcell

Being grateful can be a tough bull to ride.  Forgiveness might be even tougher.  But it beats hell out of the alternatives.  Things could be a lot worse.


Long Day’s Journey into Night (part two)

Jack wrote this in July, 2005.


That little farm you see down there is the place where I spent a good many of my
formative years.  As you can see, we’d had a pretty good year for hay, which dates the
picture to 1949, or 1950, before the big drought hit.

Maybe I’ll write some more entries about that farm and some of the things that happened
there sometime, but today, the reason I’m posting this picture has to do with life and
some of the more unexpected things that come into it.

In the lower right, this side of the railroad, you see a warehouse… what you can’t see is
that there’s a giant farm machinery business there, outside the picture.

That family was probably one of the wealthiest in our relatively poor town.  Good, solid
folks, the father not one to tolerate the kind of snobbery in his offspring that prevailed
among the other financial upper-crust families there, where there were crystallized layers
of social strata it’s difficult to imagine existing anywhere in these times.

The ‘untouchables’ were the Mexicans, mostly farm laborers, who lived on the same side
of the tracks as I did, in a mishmash of adobes that began half a mile to the left of the
picture.  Next up were the farm kids, no matter how successful the farm.  Anglo farm kids
were better than Mexicans, but not nearly so good as any town dweller.

Next up were the poorer town folks, then the physicians, lawyers, business owners and
ENMU profs.  The stratosphere of a 1950s small town society.

But, I’ve digressed.  I wanted to tell you about the sons of the man who owned that
business in the picture.

I went away from that town for a lot of years, then revisited it and became reacquainted
with a lot of old friends and enemies.  As a result of that fairly weird experience, I
learned that one of those sons of the farm machinery tycoon was a banker in the town
where I was then living, which led to me looking him up for a chat.  His older brother,
Stephen, had been a boy I respected a lot and we’d been good friends at a distance,
allowing for the differences in our social strata.  I wanted to know what ever happened to

I’m shaking my head, once again, as I write this.

That fine young man got himself a good education, went into banking, was a rising star
until the mid-1980s.  Then he abandoned it all, vanished for a while from everyone who
cared about him.

A few years later, his brother tells me, they discovered he was living under a bridge,
living on the streets in Seattle.  He wasn’t asking for any help from any of his wealthy
family, wasn’t looking for a way back, wasn’t even willing to talk to anyone from his
previous life.

I’ve pondered Stephen a lot during the years since I learned what he’d done with his life.
In some ways I think I understand, though I’m not sure.

My own life has been a long series of reversals in direction.  It’s meandered, cutting as
wide a swath of human experience as I was able to pack into it.  So, from that
perspective, I can gnaw at the edges of understanding Stephen’s behavior.

But I was a wild kid and I’ve always pushed the envelope, all my life.  Stephen was

I’d like to see old Stephen again if he’s alive.  He’d be 63, 64 years old now and maybe
wiser than he was in the 1980s when something told him he’d had enough.  I’d like to sit
on the porch and talk with him a long time to come to know how he came to make his
choice to isolate himself, to impoverish himself.

I do my best not to think I know what other people should do with their lives.  But, in the case of Stephen, I know what I’d like this reality a lot better if he did, and the news got back to me that he’d done it.


The Forum Mission House

Jack wrote this while following posts and forums on a lottery information site in July, 2005. (I apologize for formatting weirdness– when I click “Edit” it looks fine. I’m not aware of how to fix it, and don’t have time to mess around with it at the moment).

I have a lot of respect for missionaries, for people who burn with a faith that requires
them to attempt to share the joy of faith with others, even when their zeal is for a faith I
don’t subscribe to.  I’m glad whenever I see anyone consumed with recognition that
there’s more to life than the landscape, the sorrows, the trials, the baggage of human daily

I have even more respect for those gutsy Christian missionaries who took their zeal into
remote areas of the earth without regard for their own personal safety, even though that
respect doesn’t extend to ignoring the damage they’ve wrought on local religions and
cultures, the hate they’ve caused to be focused on their own religion, their own countries
of origin.

We all make mistakes.

A few years ago I saw a motorcycle gang going down the highway, a typical gang in
dingy leathers, could have been any gang of outlaw bikers.  But the legend on their vests
was “BIKERS FOR CHRIST”.  I smiled to myself and saluted them in my mind.

Having said that, I’ll also say that I have a middling respect for the Christian faith, a lot
of respect for the Christian thinkers of history, almost no respect for modern Christian
doctrine, and a profound respect for the destruction brought about by Christian
evangelism throughout the past 2000 years.

I don’t want to learn about Christianity (or any other religion) from mindless parrots
knocking on my front door in an attempt to convert me to their way of thinking.  I don’t
want to be accosted by hare-brained Hari Krishnas and their bastardized On-The-Rebound-
From-Drug-Addiction-New-Faith when I’m trying to get into a public airport.  I don’t
want to be disturbed by the testimonials of some lunatic who claims to have a hot-line to
God when I’m sitting in my vehicle waiting for a red light to change and allow me to

I’m glad these people have faith.  I share their joy in that regard.  But I don’t want to hear
about it.

And I’d far rather not read about it when I’m browsing this site.

The (mostly unpaying) users (read, abusers) of this site who attempt to spread their
gospel on the threads by interjecting religious thread-drift strike me as an unnecessary
and unwanted distraction.

It seems to me there’s a simple solution.  Most DBs include a button to allow any user to
click an ‘Ignore’ button beside a posters name and purge any posts by that person from
all future intrusions into the attention of the person clicking the button.

By that method the users here who prefer to be spared from the religious zeal of
any particular poster can do so without having to experience the reduction of joy for the
zealot that results from the rudeness and arrogance of evangelism.

Just a bit of venting, along with a not-so-subtle suggestion.


Brother Coyote and other news

Jack wrote this in March, 2006:

El Palenque

El Palenque doesn’t think;

Knows and loves

His only job

And does it;

Perfection without compromise.


Where owls, hawks

And sly coyotes salivate


To lowest common denominator

When the cackling hen

Rises from a fresh-laid egg.

From Poems of the New Old West

Copyright 2002 Jack Purcell


Evening Blogsters:

I opened the front door just now and two cats rushed inside looking over their shoulders.

Bad sign.

I rushed out onto the porch in time to see old brother coyote slithering through the fence and out through the field to the east.  I suppose things are tough out there in the wild and they’re coming in looking for house pets in yards.  It’s been a dry winter and the rodent population must be just about winnowed down to nothing.

He was looking fairly scroungy and thin.  Last year more pups reached maturity than should have, a lot more than normally would have.  We had a late snowfall and a plethora of rabbits as a result of that brief spell of moisture.  Now there’s nothing much for old brother coyote to eat.

Every night I hear them out on the mesas, but for the past several months they haven’t been making nuisances of themselves coming in killing pets.  I fear it’s beginning again.  Neighbors lost several cats last year to owls and a particular coyote that had to be delt with harshly.

But I’ve been figuring on getting a few chicks this spring, have them laying by mid-summer.  That’s something I’ve missed a lot the last several years, having a flock of chickens around to amuse me.  Gonna be a battle though, I’m thinking, between the coyotes and the neighborhood dogs running loose.

I’m partial to having the birds ranging free catching grasshoppers and eating weed seeds all summer, only going into protection at night.  Plenty of room back in the orchard and the chickens would help keep down the weeds while providing eggs in abundance.  Just a matter of giving them a fair shot at surviving.

Guess we’ll see about a lot of things this spring.


Ask Old Jules: Happiest time, What is man, Reason for belief in God, Unpredictable life, Eye of the beholder

Harper, TX 2010 123

Old Jules, what was the happiest time in your life?

May, 1965, until today. At the tender age of 21 I was fortunate to have what’s sometimes been called a ‘white light’ experience, which provided me with a generalized trust in the overall scheme of things, revealed a lot of the autopilot I’d been flying on all my life and acquainted me with some parts of myself I’d never noticed before. It didn’t provide me with an easy path to follow, but it did allow me to get over the most difficult spots along the way without becoming discouraged.

I was lucky enough to have the experience outside the proximity of preachers, allowing the profundity to define itself as opposed to being attacked with doctrinal interpretations, which I’d have been vulnerable to during the days following.

Old Jules, what is a man?

A man is an android-like motorized inflatable sex-toy and provider of romance fantasies for generic women.

Old Jules, “It is not reasonable to believe in God simply because of miracles.”
Do you agree or disagree?

It’s reasonable to believe in God, miracles, science, anything you decide to believe. Reasonable, but only in the sense that what you believe doesn’t have any bearing on what is and what is not. What would be more reasonable would be to hold back belief until you actually observe something to suggest a direction without a plethora of equally plausible explanations.

Old Jules, life is so unpredictable. Do you agree? I plan, I organize, I worry, I get disappointed, I cry…BUT, somehow, it ends up being a lot better than I ever expected it to be!

You’re trying to hit a moving target. ‘Planning’ is past tense by its nature – you can’t catch up to the present with it. If you want to hit a moving target you have to lead it.


Old Jules, can you explain”It is in the eye of the beholder.” What does this mean through perception?

Visualize shooting a beer can while it’s facing you lengthwise, bottom through the top. Now stand it on its end and shoot it again. Rotate it in your hand and examine the holes. Does the object look the same, despite the fact they share the similarity of having holes through them?

Now take another can and throw it into the air and shoot some more holes in it, followed by examination.

Reality is a moving target. It rotates, revolves and spins, changing appearance. All it has in common with itself is the fact of a lot of holes you can see through.

You, the beholder.

California Mega Millions Hoopla

Jack wrote this in July, 2005:

I used to know a guy, a good man, who was also an alcoholic of the sort you’d rather not be too close to.  Jay was his name, an ex-Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army Air Corps, B24 pilot of um-de-umph hundred bombing missions over Germany during WWII.  War hero.

By the mid-1960s Jay had a drinking problem bad enough to be placed repeatedly into the hands of the Texas Alcoholic Rehabilitation Commission to dry out.  Finally, in those days a bright new shining light among the mental health medicos was the pre-frontal lobotomy, was chosen as the tool of choice for curing what ailed old Jay….. But the unfortunate side effects were that a lot of him ceased to be Jay.

But those wise medicos knew what was best for him, they’d read all the recent advances and articles, so they strapped him down to a gurney and inserted electrodes on his temples and shot the juice to him.  Several times.

I’d heard about all this, thought it was fairly awful, but what the hell.  A few months later I was among a group of young folks friends of his who got invited to spend a day on Galveston Bay cruising around in Jay’s cabin cruiser down there.

Jay was wearing a tee -shirt that proclaimed, “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a prefrontal lobotomy”.  And he did.

It finally killed him, alcohol, the lobotomy didn’t change that…. but he always believed, afterward, that it was a fairly shabby thing for society to have done to him, that lobotomy.  Deprived him of his right to make his own mistakes.  At least, it attempted to.

If you boil all that down and scrape the leavings off the bottom of the pot, that’s about the way I feel about the brushwar going on in California about Mega Millions.

And a lot of other things, for that matter.


Hidden by the Trees

Hidden by the Trees

You seek truth, Diogenes?

Begin by forgetting
What they told you was a lie
Even though they might
Have thought it was the truth

Fluid fiction hides
In the syllables of words
In the single-celled inventions
Of the mind

Cancer fiction spreads
With the separating cells
A metastasizing tumor
In reality
Feeding on self-interest
Feeding on the fear of mortality
In a plastic box of pictures
In the cellulose perceptions
Of normality.

Pull the cords.

Pour the liquid
Off the soup
Leave crystal residue:
Tetrahedron maze
Of interlocking molecules

Of truth nobody told you
Of truth nobody wants.


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

Tribal Sovereignty and NA Casino oversight

The ambiguities of tribal sovereignty, the difficulties thereby created for State regulatory scrutiny of Native American casinos (at least, in NM, but likely also in other jurisdictions) create a target-rich environment for house cheating on all games without fear of being snagged.  Players would be well advised to recognize this fact and watch carefully what happens around them.

The following ‘poem’ describes an event as it actually happened in a casino in New Mexico.  I was sitting at that single-deck blackjack table, $3 minimum, $75 table max.  The names of the casinos in the poem are changed, naturally.  NM casinos are NA owned, but Rocco manages them, if you get my meaning.


Familiar Spirits

Arroyo Seco fortune shifted
First hand after Mary,
Toothless Navajo vieja,
Wrinkles doubled under weight
Of  old pawn turquoise
And silver squash blossom
Groaned into second base
3 dollar minimum
Single deck felt
Behind her walker

Plunked down three white chips

Cards turned

Three green button table max,
Weathered gamblers
Plus Mary and the dealer
All drew blackjacks in a single hand

“Ha.”  Steel grip on walker
Hand raised in ‘How!’ salute:

“Ha!”  Plowed brown field surrounds
Frozen narrowed slits of eye

Players, dealer, pit-boss, hangers on
Transfixed on sunlight shaft
In silent forest
Only birdsong
Slot machines

“The tables have an evil spirit!”

Chairs emptied
Puzzled drink server
Stands with tray
Two cokes and one black coffee
Vacant gazing search
For missing thirst

Laguna, Navajo, Acoma,
Mexican and white
Play down the road at Desert Fox

Although they’ve burned sage
Purged the evil
Cleansed the spirits

No dice

Four aces only
In an unenlightened
Single deck


From Poems of the New Old West

Copyright 2002, Jack Purcell

The more they stay the same

Jack wrote this in July, 2005:


The men in this picture, those of them who are still alive, are now enjoying their sixth decade of life. But, this picture finds them a lot younger, somewhere along the Han River in Korea, a few days after the assassination of President John Kennedy.

Most of us (I’m behind the camera, not one of the uglies down range) were drafted, or had enlisted during the Berlin Crisis of 1961, thinking there were a lot of Russians about to be in need of killing.

Thinking we were just the guys to do it.

By the time of picture we were a lot less gung-ho. We were getting ‘short’, and most of us had a jaundiced view of the whole US attempt to save the world from itself. The only firing we’d done with those M-14s had been a month earlier, at the Division Honor Guard down in a rice paddy below us one night, while they fired their own M-14s and a .30 caliber machine gun back at us.

A case of mistaken identity following an incursion across the DMZ a few miles north of us by an unknown number of ‘bad guys’.

However, despite our best efforts, nobody killed, nobody injured. A good time was had by all after we changed our underwear.

Today, despite the fact the poverty we saw in Korea is gone, despite the fact the ROK has a healthier economy than the US, along with a fine military force, despite the fact the International Communist Conspiracy died following Vietnam, despite the fact the Russkies packed up their tents and went home to contemplate their navels in peace, young Americans are still over there.

Maybe they’re standing right there where Zeke Rapoza’s squatted, sneering into a camera held by another GI, thinking similar thoughts to those the young old men in that picture were thinking a few days after the world changed.

But today we’re no longer having to save the world from Communism. Instead, the world is trying to think of ways to save itself from us.

Bye, bye Miss American Pie.