Monthly Archives: July 2021

The Great Escape


The Great Escape

Call yourself a cop

I’ll call myself a robber

Corner me in an outhouse

Call in your backups

Talk to me through bullhorns

“Come out with your hands up

We know you’re in there

Watching flies strafe dust particles

In sunlight shafts

Savoring the odor and the old news

“Come out or we’ll come in after you. “

Tension builds. No answer.

Anti-climax hero cop makes a perfect photograph

An eyeball peeking through a knot hole.

I’ve escaped

Down through the hole

Into the real world

From Poems of the New Old West

Copyright©2002, Jack Purcell

Tangled webs and Gypsy goodtimes

Jack posted this in August, 2005:

Late 1964, Rex Labor and I were part of a group of Peace Corps trainees on the island of Hilo, Hawaii, whom the Peace Corps decided it could survive without.  They gave us airline tickets back to the mainland, but Rex and I left the plane at Honolulu, planning to go to India on our own, deck hand on a sailboat bound for Australia, something.

Here’s what happened next:

Next day we went looking for work.  Rex took a newspaper and headed down to check out the openings on Waikiki…..I headed for the bars on Hotel Street looking for a job or a hooker to prime me for my job search.  Tomorrow I’d go down to Waikiki to find my busboy job at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.  Today I had more pressing matters.

In a while, I came to a booth with a pretty Gypsy lady; flirted a bit, talked around the issue.  Was certain she was a hooker.  Finally, she demanded, “You want a gypsy good-time?”

“Yeah!  A Gypsy good-time!”

She took me into an attached room with nothing but a cot, sat me down.  “$10″….she took my money and assured she’d be back in a moment.  I sat there and knew when she brought in a snaggle-toothed crone that I’d just lost a sawbuck for another of my lessons in life. 

“Here it is!  A Gypsy goodtime!”  She and the crone danced back and forth in front of me, all of us laughing. 

My life has been rich in gypsy good-times. I’ve been a man wealthy in Gypsy good-times, but that one was best.

A Gypsy-good time when the coconuts fell beside us and mangos piled high under the trees blocking the sidewalks where Rex and I grumbled in our cots picking off sunburned skin to throw to the giant roaches. 

We were young in that country.

From: Day of the Lost Souls
Copyright©2003 Jack Purcell

Rex Labor became a lifelong friend.  Today he’s in China teaching English to adult Chinese.

But the point of this yarn is to convey that I, and maybe a lot of other lottery players obviously don’t mind a Gypsy Goodtime if it’s well conceived and executed.  Probably most of us could even appreciate it.

Probably that crone is dead sometime these last forty years.  Even the younger Gypsy woman’s probably lost to history, not available as a consultant to major lottery operations.

I’m suggesting the lottery management needs to go to the pros, if they want to make a good job of this sort of thing.

There are still plenty around.


47 Different ways to say, “I’m friendly!”

Jack wrote this in August, 2005:


It’s true, we’re an animal friendly village.

We tend to get along reasonably well with the neighbor dogs running loose, with the coyotes that encourage the neighbors to bring their dogs in nights, with the snakes, spiders, roadrunners, lamas, even the occasional bobcat or bear.

True also, we occasionally kill one of the above when it makes enough of a nuisance of itself.  But there’s not spite, no satisfaction in doing it.

But all that’s not to say we’re a ‘friendly’ community in other ways.  We’re not.  The old land-grant families hate the developers, the real estate interests, the residue from the times when this area was peppered with hippie communes, and newcomers.  Our Catholics don’t care for the Presbyterians, the only other church in town.  And the Presbyterians driving around in their Volvos and BMWs with NO WAR IN IRAQ, or SAVE THE WHALES bumper stickers would like the place a lot better if opinions were less robust concerning the gentle matters dear to them.

They tend to suffer such indignities as having their front doors egged when they post anything suggesting the current war’s not what they had in mind for the nation.  My next door neighbor had a definite look of hurt when she removed hers.  But she has a name for those who do such things.  “Anglo-hating a**h*les!” is a moniker I’ve heard her use on occasion.

In earlier times they weren’t so friendly to animals, but they got along better with one another because they were all alike.  Same ethnic background, same religion, same generation after generation of first cousins married one another.

Unfortunately, the Apaches kept killing down their numbers and forcing them to abandon the place for a few decades.

Up the hill from here about 3-4 miles is where the earliest residents lived.  A place called Sandia Man cave.  Those folks lived here about 10-12K years ago, and were a lot less animal friendly.  There’s cause to believe they might have killed off the last mastodon in New Mexico, even.  They lived there at a time called the Folsum/Midland era… A time when the mega fauna were coming into short supply because of the Clovis era ancestors of these guys, who had a fierce appetite for saber-tooth tiger and elephant meat.

The only mastodon bones ever found in a Folsum/Midland site were in the Sandia Man cave.  They got the last ‘un, and they did it in a fairly patriotic manner.  The orchards and vineyards here do a lot better without a lot of mega fauna wandering around forever knocking down adobe houses and fences.

Sometime I’ll show you some pictures of the Sandia Man cave, some of his tools I’ve found around, and maybe tell you some more about him.


Ask Old Jules: Life 20 years from now, The Source of freedom, Not feeling intelligent, Changes in 2012, Discussing existence

Harper, TX 2010 152

Old Jules, what do you think the world will be like in 20 years time?

Bic lighters and pocket-knives will be coveted, high-tech barter items.

Old Jules, what is the source of freedom?


Old Jules, I don’t feel intelligent. How can I fix this?

You might begin by differentiating the way you allow words to guide your intellect. Intelligence is not feeling. Feeling intelligent isn’t possible. Feelings are emotions and thoughts are thoughts. Getting a feeling your classmates take pride in their comprehension is not the same phenomenon as thinking your classmates take pride etc. I’d offer the suggestion you’d think yourself more intelligent if you distinguish clearly in your own mind the difference between feelings and thoughts.

Old Jules, what’s your opinion on the changes 2012 will bring?

I think we have some tough times coming down the pike worldwide. I don’t think it has anything to do with 2012 unless the Coincidence Coordinators just happen to be working overtime on an irony project. Things have been weird for a longish while and the Economics 101 course I took 50 years ago has already proved itself badly flawed squared and cubed, so I’m probably wrong anyway.

Old Jules, who’s up for a rousing discussion about existence?

The problem with discussions about existence is finding a common platform of rhetoric where there’s unanimity of acceptance of some basic premises to serve as a lowest common denominator. Okay, so we all accept thus-and-so and we can go from there to explore all the nuances and possibly arrive at some higher level of premises also involving consensus. No such platform of consensus exists. The reason is that while we’re all confined to the incoming data of our five senses, we each assign different levels of reliability and importance to the types of arriving data and we’ve each a unique set of methods of processing the data once it’s filed and prioritized. A huge chunk of everything each of us believes we know isn’t from direct sensory input observation, but rather from reports of others regarding their observations and the conclusions they reached, then handed down through chains of other reporters who interpreted, prioritized and massaged it all based on their own internal systems. It seems to me the only way to come to any personal conclusion about existence, the meaning and possible purpose of it is to directly observe, look for hints, corner-of-the-eye pieces of evidence we’ve overlooked because they’ve always been there, the hide-behinds of reality. One of those, rarely mentioned, is that everything in this reality we occupy has to sit on the carcass of something else to survive. A harsh, savage reality. An amazingly co-dependent maze. Another is the fact that human life involves a series of interchangeable quests, or our perception of it becomes meaningless and despair reigns. But no sooner does one quest end than another stumbling block appears before us. I surmise that challenge has something to do with the meaning of life. Then there’s the matter of time, lightspeed, brain function, and the limits of sensory input forcing everything into the past. But this has grown lengthy and nobody’s likely to read it anyway. Makes no difference even if they do. Good luck in your quest.

Make my day, stranger!

Jack wrote this in October, 2005:

I don’t know when we began giving power to strangers. I think it’s a relatively recent phenomenon. Maybe we watched too many Westerns during our formative years, learned from those steely eyed men in saloons that what strangers think about us is worth a gunfight.

Nowadays the extreme version happens in city traffic. Someone shoots someone else a bird. Next step is an exchange of gunfire.

Here’s how the scenario runs:

Some complete stranger pronounces a bias we don’t share.

Our thought response:

“This offends me.”

That thought process is driven by a deeper one:

“I want to be offended. I give this stranger the power to offend me. I assign enough value to what this stranger says, or believes, to allow it to trigger a negative emotional path within me. What this stranger says or believes matters.”

We know better.

Strangers cut too wide a swath in their traits to have any real value. They span the breadth of potential human biases. But even knowing this we give them the power to ruin a moment.

I say this is a recent phenomenon because humans of the past behaved differently. Our forefathers didn’t care what Brits thought about us because they recognized that Brits live within an entirely different set of interests.

Even today a Zuni doesn’t care what a Navajo thinks about anything because from the perspective of a Zuni, Navajos don’t have anything valid to contribute to any meaningful discussion. Navajos live in a different reality from Zunis.

Both Navajos and Zunis choose to allow themselves to be offended by the opinions of Anglos and Hispanics, but there’s a reason. They’ve found taking offense is a means of gaining power over those groups.

But neither a Zuni, nor a Navajo would bother being offended by the thoughts and words of the other because to each there’s nothing the other might think that carries the weight of validity.

Not long ago the same was true of people almost everywhere. The people in the town where I was reared cared about the opinions of people within that town, but they couldn’t have cared less what the people in Clovis, twenty miles away thought. It was generally understood that Clovis people were stupid and might think and say anything.

Today we care what everyone thinks about almost everything. We pretend to believe what they think carries value, but we know better. We just like the feel of being offended..

Make my day, Stranger! I’m handing you the power to offend me.

This leaves me cold.

Human opinion hasn’t held up well under scrutiny. It’s worth about what it costs. Mine aren’t that reliable and I haven’t found those of others to be any better.


That hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico

Jack wrote this in August, 2005:

I see on one of the threads that another major hurricane’s stalking around in the Gulf of Mexico …. threatening New Orleans at the moment.  Brings to mind a lot of strange memories.

One of my careers of this lifetime was spent as State Floodplain Manager for New Mexico… wore another hat with it toward the end, Emergency Management Coordinator with a bit of disaster preparedness thrown in.  I was paid on annual grants to the State by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  Spent a lot of time off in Emmitsburg, MD, New Orleans, Galveston, Oklahoma City, etc.

I suppose the thing that impressed me most during those years was how thoroughly we’ve boxed ourselves in with regards to natural disasters.  The Gulf Coast filled with people, then pumped out all the petroleum from underneath, so’s to cause the entire region to subside beneath the waves, if not kept out by the intervention of man.  The last time I looked the San Jacinto Monument was threatened.  From the top of that spire you could look around and see nothing but submerged streets that used to be high and dry.

In riverine areas the erosion of banks is undercutting whole neighborhoods inland along rivers almost everywhere if they have any flow.  In California, they’ve built so heavily in wildfire, mudslide and earthquake areas that every tremor assures an enormous amount of damage.

And on and on.

During those sessions at the National Emergency Management Training Center, Emmitsburg, MD, guys in the same job I was in from all the States gathered a week or two at a time.  Evenings we used to sing an old Kingston Trio song:

THE KINGSTON TRIO  – “The Merry Minuet”

(Sheldon Harnick)

They’re rioting in Africa.
They’re starving in Spain.
There’s hurricanes in Florida
And Texas needs rain.
The whole world is festering with unhappy souls.
The French hate the Germans.
The Germans hate the Poles.
Italians hate Yugoslavs.
South Africans hate the Dutch
And I don’t like anybody very much!
But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud
For man’s been endowed with a mushroom shaped cloud.
And we know for certain that some lovely day
Someone will set the spark off
And we will all be blown away.

They’re rioting in Africa.
There’s strife in Iran.
What nature doesn’t do to us
Will be done by our fellow man.

I suppose that just about says it all, except nature doesn’t do it, precisely.  We do it to ourselves.  We build in subsidence areas, riverine flooding areas, earthquake areas, coastal hurricane areas, mudslide and wildfire areas, and we feel fairly put out when it floods, shakes, slides, burns.

But there’s always the president to declare it a disaster, throw in a river of taxpayer money so we can build again in the same location.

Until next time.


The tribal struggle for the moral high-ground

Jack wrote this in February, 2005:

Morning blogsters:

I was reading a feed on one of the Native American blogs this morning.  The story was about Hopi runners joining the run to Mexico City to draw attention to environmental matters, particularly water.  Other tribal runners from the SW US will also be joining.

After reading the feed I walked out to my front porch to savor the new dawn across the Rio Grande Valley.   Cold, beautiful morning.  A blessing.

I can see across the tribal lands of the Zia, the Santa Ana, the Santo Domingo, and a bit of Sandia Rez, along with that owned by whites and the US government.  Probably some of the promontories jutting up are on Jemez tribal lands.

All that land is in the grip of a sustained drought lasting several years.  The lowest common denominator in moisture for the ability of soil to support life in a normally desert clime has been reached.  Over the past five years we’ve averaged five inches of moisture per year, as opposed to the normal nine inches.

Plant life is dying back, soil eroding by wind.  When the rains do come the water will channelize quickly and the arroyos will widen and deepen even more…. the land will be carried away to accumulate in the basins and raise the surface flooding in the rivers.

But on the Santa Ana tribal lands there’s a spot of green.  The huge Santa Ana resort complex, Casino, golf-course is ten miles from here, but the green is visible by the naked eye.  Every day a cloud forms over the complex that can be seen from here, sprayers pumping precious water from the ground, spraying it into the sky to water the golf-course and the lawns.

I’m glad the Hopi, the Din’e, the Mescalero will participate in the run to Mexico to help whites become more aware of water.  The environmental destruction caused by over-grazing on Navajo lands over 150 years of their stewardship is so severe it might never recover.  Erosion from the Navajo Rez carries siltation into the Zuni lands, filling the channel and causing flooding.  Today.

There’s no moral high-ground here.  Whites and Native Americans are acting in concert to destroy this land we love.  We’re doing it out of greed and short-sightedness.

Maybe during that long run to Mexico the realization will dawn among some of them.  No one but the tribes can do anything to change things on the Rez where the environment’s concerned.  If the tribes want to act as a conscience for America on environmental issues (and we desparately need one) it can’t be accomplished from a promontory of hypocrisy.

In the end, we all have to look inside what we are, what we have, and what we CAN change for any change to occur.


Focusing energy and some gratitude

Jack wrote this in February, 2006:

Morning blogsters:

That moon setting over the mesa is almost full, red-orange.  Someone probably knows what a red-orange moonset means, but it ain’t me.

I’ve been doing considerable energy work trying to bring in some moisture here, trying to get this sustained drought behind us.  The pinons on the mountain are tough biomass, but eventually a drought in a place that normally doesn’t get more than 10 inches of moisture per year begins to give them the blind staggers.

Thus far success has been limited on the rainmaking venture.  Twice light snowfalls have followed the intense efforts, but not enough to even stay on the ground more than a few hours.

I tried stealing some of the undirected energy from all those people focused on the box full of pictures of guys banging up against one another fighting over a ball last Sunday, trying to use it to pull some moisture-laden cloud in here, but all I got was a wind gusting to 50 miles an hour.

Maybe it’s still on the way.  I tried planting metaphysical chaos butterflies over every city in the US.  Such things take a while.

Meanwhile, I’m grateful that it’s still winter, still too early for the fires we’re going to have if the universe doesn’t drop some H2O on us.

Grateful that we still might get water here, enough to keep the trees alive.

Grateful for everything that’s ever happened to me in this life, for what’s happening now, and for everything that’s going to happen during whatever life I have yet to live.

Grateful it does end eventually, this one, and grateful for whatever pause we get in-between before we have to come back and try to do it right next time.



Ask Old Jules: Favorite childhood memory, Problem solving, RAOK, Backwards life, Forgiving great evils

Jack at 24 Camino los Altos

Old Jules, what’s one of your favorite memories from childhood that you would like to experience again?

If I had to experience a piece of childhood again I think I’d have to choose running away from home. That’s the best I recall it ever getting.

Old Jules, could you describe one experience which demonstrated your problem-solving ability?

Battestar Gallinica. I needed a protected environment where a hen could be separated from the flock and protected during her brooding cycle for 20 plus days, then stay a week more with the chicks after they hatched. I had a large cable spool lying around wondering what to do with itself, along with a couple of lawn-mower platforms someone left beside the road because the engines kerplunked. I sawed a lawnmower platform in half and bolted it to the bottom of the cable-spool so’s to make it mobile, then removed a couple of slats from the inside of the spool to provide a place for the hen to sit on the eggs. I used refrigerator shelves cut-down to proper sizes, along with other discarded materials, to enclose the outer perimeter of the environment. I’ve hatched out a number of clutches of eggs in Battlestar Gallinica, and it’s been an asset, though an eyesore.

Old Jules what was your last random act of kindness?

I tipped a blackjack dealer 20% after I’d had a particularly nice streak of random cards.

Old Jules, what if death was really the birth of a new life just everything was backwards?

We’d have been able to hear what was being said backward in Louie Loueye without messing up our phonograph needles.

Old Jules, can the horrors of great evil be forgiven by ordinary human beings? Should it be forgiven?

If great harm came to you, or yours, it’s yours to forgive and you’ll only do further harm to yourself by not forgiving. But if it’s a great ‘evil’ or harm you and yours weren’t victims of there’s no forgiving for you to do and the entire matter is none of your business. Forgiving or not forgiving in such circumstances is just an ego-ride conversation piece.

Long day journey into whatever

Jack wrote this in February, 2005:

Hi blogsters:

All that tribal talk got me thinking about an old Mescalero bud I’ve known on and off through the parts of this lifetime that matter.  We go long times without seeing one another, but we top off the long spells by bumping into one another in unlikely places.

Kurtiss and I first met working on Skeeter Jenkin’s ranch near Kenna, New Mexico.  Must have been 1958, ’59.  Skeeter wasn’t a joyful man on his ranch-hands.  He’d berate Kurtiss by comparing him to us white lads, then he’d turn around five minutes later and tell us we weren’t half as good cowboying as that damned Apache over there.

I guess the only good that came out of that job was the bond that formed between Kurtiss and me, and the lifelong lesson I learned about not trusting ranchers.  Old Skeeter cheated all of us spang out of a hard week pay and spread around the word none of us were worth the board he’d furnished working for him.

Fortunately, he’d done that sort of thing before, so nobody paid him any mind when it came to hiring us for other jobs, which we frequently got screwed out of our pay on, same as with Skeeter.

The last time I ran into Kurtiss must have been 1998, ’99.  He and a couple of Arizona broncos were sitting on the tailgate of a truck parked for a powwow in Albuquerque when I came across them and a case of beer that was too close to gone to be any good.

When we’d killed what was left of that case we kicked out of there and spent the night singing ’50s rock and roll songs, getting roaring and filling in on the minutia of our lives since we’d last met.

Spent a good bit of time talking about Y2K also, which was much on my mind at the time, and they’d never heard of.

I’m going to talk more about Kurtiss in other blog entries, about his views on the Y2K ‘end of life as we know it’ I expected at the time and explained to them.  Those Apaches thought that just might be something really fine.  Kurtiss immediately thought of a state cop over toward Ruidoso who’s bad about kicking around folks who’ve had a bit much to drink, who mightn’t survive a Y2K event after the first ten minutes or so.

Those Apaches demonstrated some rich imagination concerning the nuances of Y2K aftermath.  Thought maybe running raids on the Rio Grande tribes like the old days would be a middling amusing way to pass post-civilization, and the Arizonians were fairly sure Mexico would be open for a bit of raiding.

Kurtiss laughed, saying Navajo country might offer prospects for revenge.  The Mescalero still feels resentment about all the slaughter the more numerous Navajo did to Mescalero at Bosque Redondo, decimating Apache numbers there until they were almost extinct.

Bosque Redondo was fresh on his mind because of Navajo whines he heard at the powwow.  “Mescalero’s too large for such few people.”  (The enormous Din’e Rez is getting jam-packed these days, by comparison.)  “They ought to take some of that land away and give it to us,” was the general theme.

“We fought our way down,” Kurtiss quoted himself.  “And you guys multiply like rabbits.”

This led to some laughs and sneers about the theme of the Gathering of Nations Powwow, “Celebrating 400 years of unity (among the tribes)”.

“I wonder where that was,” one of the Coyoteros grunted.  “The Apache never saw it and neither did our enemies.  Those Mexicans and Pima and all those town Indians were lucky the whites came along to save them.”

Mostly those guys were in agreement in their scorn for other southwestern tribes.  “They don’t know how to use the land,” gesturing with a nod and a slight pucker of the lips.


But I was going to wait to tell you about all that.  Guess I’ll have to wait to tell you some other yarns about that long night of drinking that came a long time after I gave up the devil rum.

Sometimes a man has to make exceptions in this life.  Prelude to the end of life as we know it was one of them.