Archive for December 2010

Buffalo Bones and Racing Minnows, Bears, Wyoming, Alaska, Vegetarians and Artists   Leave a comment

A few years ago, I accompanied Ed Lowe on a journey to find a bone. Ed needed a bone for a piece of art he was doing. He wanted an elk bone and called a few places in search of one.  A place in South Dakota mailed him some fresh buffalo bones that he boiled on the grill in the backyard to get off whatever scanty meat still clung to them. It kept the dogs underfoot in the process hoping for a morsel. Then after speaking to a man in Wyoming who raised large game for his hunting reserve, and owned a meat processing business in a small Wyoming town, Ed thought he’d found a place that could provide him with the perfect bone he needed for his piece. The Wyoming man said that we could come look through his bone piles at his ranch. He gave Ed directions and we started out on a chilly Saturday morning. We found his meat processing building in town, and we stopped to check if he might be there, but it was closed, so we followed the directions to the ranch. We wound around and through muddy dirt roads in my Honda sliding and speeding up to make it through the deeper mud holes in the road. The directions were not the best but we came to a nice split level home that seemed it must be the place. There were animal bones lining the driveway, skulls placed here and there around the house and yard in distinct aesthetic design.  Ed knocked on the door and a Hulk Hogan clone answered the door complete with handkerchief tied on his head and thin blonde hair sticking out at neckline. I waited in the car. Ed returned, “It’s not the right place, but he gave me directions. We’re close.” We were sure we’d found the right place based on the scattering of bones we saw as we entered a long driveway to an old farmhouse. A pickup was outside and we knocked on the front door, the backdoor, front door again. The guy had said that we could come at this time and he would be here. We hated to drive all the way home without “the bone.” No reception on my cell phone, so we couldn’t call the guy. We knocked once more. Ed said,”Let’s just walk over to some of these bone piles and see if we can find a bone.” It seemed reasonable since we had already gotten the owner’s okay to take a bone, but it was creepy at the same time, because we were on someone’s land and there were a lot of bone piles around (surely they were all animal bones) and the guy’s pickup was at the house, and he most likely had a gun – we were in rural Wyoming. So we walked a trail and saw a pile of bones which led down the way to another pile of bones and another and another. It’s like looking for gold and seeing the next vein. I picked up a half a rib cage and carried it with me, because somehow it seemed like a treasure and why go home empty-handed from the bone store. Ed found a few he thought might work and some that he appreciated for their sleek line or the delicateness of one small one that might be used in another piece, but still not the elk bone he wanted. We went back to the car and put our bone stash in the trunk, tried knocking one more time, and then decided to return to the house of the Hulk clone and see if he could call the neighbor on his land line phone.

This time I went to the door with Ed. We knocked and I heard three locks and bolts being undone before the door opened. Hmmm, most country people I know just open the door. He locked the door behind us.  Double Hmmmmmmm.

Not prepared for what I saw, I gasped, but the owner seemed not to notice or was used to this response. The house was filled with taxidermy animals, big animals, a lot of big animals, but all in an extremely clean, nice new home. It was beyond tidy. This guy is a Hulk clone with obsessive compulsive disorder. The fridge magnets were in perfect alignment. Maybe it’s just not what I expected from a guy who looks like he might throw a chair through a window when you least expect it. The shiny dust-free wood floors glowed, the kitchen faucet sparkled and all under the watchful eyes of hundreds of dead animals. There was a wild boar with tusks that stretched seven feet from tail to tusk, a couple of standing bears, a few wolves, coyotes,  the head of an elk to name a few. Mixed in with these eyes was some great Alaskan art made my Native Americans. Our amazement at this collection of animals in this lovely home was appreciated by our new host, and his interest in Ed’s art and need for an animal bone caused him to warm to us quickly, and he graciously showed us his entire home. In every room, eyes bore into my own eyes or my back. The spare bedroom had its own bear skin on the bed and standing bear.  Our host, I’ll call him Mr. Hogan, took us into his bedroom and we saw his four-poster bed lined with skins of ermine, mink, weasel, all draped like scarves around the entire bed. I’m wondering how much does one have to kill before getting tired of the game and decide to try a new hobby. That’s when Mr. Hogan said that he planned to build onto his living room because he wasn’t done yet.  He showed us the bear that he brought down with a spear, and was given an Indian name by his native friends in Alaska after this feat. In the bedroom, we saw a very old gun hanging on the wall and he proceeded to tell us that his parents were from England and his father was a secret agent working with the U.S government during WWII. He and his mother were sent to the United States for their own protection when he was a boy. Mr. Hogan himself was a proud veteran of the Vietnam War. And had been a hunting guide in Alaska until just a year or two before buying some land in Wyoming to settle and build a home.

I asked, “Have you seen the movie, “Grizzly Man” about the guy who lived with grizzlies every year in Alaska for months. The bears finally had enough and killed the man and his girlfriend?”

“Look at this” he said. Mr. Hogan pulled a small plastic container from a shelf and unscrewed the lid. Hold our your hand.”

He dropped an unrecognizable piece of something in my hand.

‘That’s a lip from that bear that ate the guy in the movie. My friend who is a park ranger in Alaska was called in when a helicopter spotted a torn up camp area. She found what was left of the guy and his girlfriend. The bear was found and killed and she saved this piece of skin from the bear as a souvenir for me. That guy in the movie was crazy. Didn’t know a thing about bears.”

I thought, wait until I tell my son, Josh, that not only did I watch the movie he suggested, but I held in my hand a piece of that man-eating bear. This bone trip continues to get weirder by the moment.

Our host was a most gracious man. We drank coffee while he told us about the eccentric people living in this area. “People think there are free spirit oddballs living in Alaska, they should come here.”

After seeing the house and drinking our coffee, he offered to try to call his neighbor again for us. The neighbor had not answered the first time he tried. We hear him dial in the next room and then the one-sided conversation that takes place.

“No, they are good people. Really. It’s an artist and his friend. They said you’d be around if they drove here today. Well, they must not have gotten that message. Settle down. You’re not going to shoot anyone. All right, all right. They won’t come back. Yes, I’ll tell them you are in Denver. Really, they are very nice people. Yeah, go lie down.”

Mr Hogan came out of the room looking a bit embarrassed. He said, “My neighbor said that he left a message on your phone, Ed, telling you he would not be able to see you today and not to come for the bone. He’s said that he’s in Denver. I saw him last night in the bar and he was getting pretty lit up. I don’t think you should return to his place today.”

Ed said, “Damn, I was hoping for a nice elk bone. I want the elegance of the longer bone as opposed to a buffalo bone, but I didn’t find one.”

“I will be hunting for elk next week and can send you one, or you could come back and pick it up. I’ll make you some bear stew and we can talk some more. The stew is great.”

Probably not the time to mention that I’m a vegetarian. I’d already read a joke about vegetarians on his wall somewhere.

“That would be great,” Ed said, “You’ve been so gracious and helpful today. Sorry we’ve taken up so much of your day.”

“No, my pleasure. It’s great to speak to intelligent people and I love artists.”

He’s maybe eaten a few, I think. He unbolts and unlocks his door and lets us out. We shake hands and return to our car with the contraband bones in our trunk from the neighbor who was probably watching us walk his land with a gun in his hand at  the upstairs window. And we still don’t have the right bone.

We get into my car, and I start laughing. “That was interesting. He’s a very sweet, can’t-kill-enough-animals-in-my-lifetime guy.

On our way home we stop in a bar in Wyoming for a beer and there is much excitement in the place due to minnow races taking place.

“Well, of course, there are minnow races taking place here. Our wacky trip must continue. At least they are live minnows.”

We ordered another beer, and some fried mushrooms and placed our bet on number 1.


Posted December 24, 2010 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Uncategorized

Truth Fears No Questions, Wiki Leaks,   Leave a comment

When my children came home from school to report how mean the teacher was that day or what another student had done to them, I listened to their story then asked the questions, “What did you do?” “What was your part in this?” I wanted the full story and wanted my children to learn accountability even if they were/are my favorite kids in the world. The United States is filled with warm, generous, and interesting citizens trying to make a living and enjoy life, and all deserving of the whole story.                                                                       Daniel Ellsberg, a former Marine Company Commander, and high-level Pentagon official recognized the lies propagated by current and past presidents about our involvement in Vietnam, and that the probability of “winning” was very slim. Ellsberg wanted to end the deception. Even the Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara stated that we could not win but the United States went forth with the “Christmas Bombings” dropping 100,0000 bombs in 11 days. This is equivalent to eight Nagasaki’s. Daniel Ellsberg released 7000 pages of top-secret documents. He went into hiding for 13 days after leaking the documents. Ellsberg said: “I felt that as an American citizen, as a responsible citizen, I could no longer cooperate in concealing this information from the American public. I did this clearly at my own jeopardy and I am prepared to answer to all the consequences of this decision.” He leaked the documents to The New York Times, The Washington Post and 17 other newspapers. The Nixon Administration succeeded in preventing the Times from publishing the papers for 15 days, but the Supreme Court ordered the Times to publish the documents that came to be known as “The Pentagon Papers.”  Ellsberg turned himself in and was charged under the Espionage Act of 1917 and faced other charges of theft, and conspiracy. The maximum sentence was 115 years. His trial began in January of 1973. The judge dismissed the charges due to gross governmental misconduct and illegal evidence gathering. G. Gordon Liddy was involved in a plan for 12 Cuban Americans, who had done other jobs for the CIA, to “totally incapacitate” Ellsberg. It was unclear if that meant to assassinate or debilitate him. Liddy writes in his autobiography that another plan was to drop LSD in Ellsberg’s soup at a fund-raising dinner in Washington, so that he would be unable to speak well at the dinner and so be discredited. This fell through, according to Liddy, because there was not time to get the people in place to complete the plan.                                                                             Daniel Ellsberg spoke about the similar situation today regarding WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and his source Bradley Manning, “If I released the Pentagon Papers today, the same rhetoric and the same calls would be made about me. I would be called not only a traitor—which I was then, which was false and slanderous—but I would be called a terrorist… Assange and Manning are no more terrorists than I am. I was interested that in the recent release that shows the U.S. throwing its weight around against the poor countries of the world to exploit their resources was something that Manning said he was determined to expose to the American people.“                                                      Columbia University students were instructed not to read the WikiLeak documents if they ever wanted to be employed by the United States government. Is this the United States or China? Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, is working with Wal-Mart in a new campaign, “If You See Something, Say Something.” She instructs Americans in video messages at certain check-out spots in Wal-Marts to report suspicious activity. Are we all to become fearful suspicious agents for our government? What next? Shall we teach children in schools to turn their parents in for speaking out against war or if they have a friend who wears a turban? Children reported their parents during the “Cultural Revolution” in China in the 1960s. The words  “Cultural Revolution” have a progressive and pleasant sound, sort of like, “underprivileged” instead of poor and hungry. Americans have been inundated with reports on Julian Assange, alleged rapist and evildoer. Time will tell, but consider some of the myths as reported by Elaine Shpungin, Ph.D., director of a training center for doctoral students in Psychology. Her writing has appeared in the journal Psychology Today.                                                                                   Myth #1 Assange is an anti-establishment, anti-business troublemaker who is trying to create chaos for his own enjoyment. Truth: Evidence and statements made by Assange and those who know him suggest that he is neither anti-establishment nor anti-business but anti-corruption and illegality.                                                                                                                    Myth#2 Alleged sexual assault charges. Truth: Although sexual assault charges are certainly serious, a sober and credible Reuters report shows that Assange had consensual sex with two women (at different times) without the use of a condom (in one case, it broke), which resulted in unsuccessful attempts by the women to track Assange down for STD testing. These unsuccessful attempts (reportedly because he was already staying low due to the leaked cables scandal), escalated into a decision by a prosecutor to press charges. You can read the Reuters Special report for yourself and decide if it’s fair to say at this point that we “know nothing.”                                                                                                                                          Myth #3 WikiLeaks cables mostly show a bunch of gossipy, mean-spirited revelations about diplomats and leaders saying unflattering things about each other. The reality: As recently as July and October 2010, both the Afghanistan and Iraq war logs exposed by WikiLeaks have led to a new understanding of events, decisions, and misinformation that has affected the lives (and deaths) of American men and women deployed in these countries, as well as the astounding number of civilians killed by violent means (66,000 in the Afghani conflict, for instance). We also know that the U.S. tried to use a carrot and stick combo involving financial incentives and political alliances to influence other nations’ decisions during the failed Copenhagen climate talks. We have been     purposefully misinformed about U.S. involvement in Yemen (official story: none; reality: escalation of troops and attacks), about U.S. killings of innocent civilians (directly, not as crossfire victims), about the level of corruption in Afghanistan (e.g., the amount of money we spend on bribes to the “other” side), and the diplomatic deals which involve leaders from other countries covering up for our government as it misinforms the American people. To read more of the myths, Google, Five wikileak myths by Elaine Shpungin.

Posted December 14, 2010 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Uncategorized

Washes of Sound   3 comments

in the yawn of a silent roar

the cat’s teeth show sharp

his silent stretches reach

across a butter-colored rug

he hears the lap lap lap

of her body sliding into the tub

she asks him how he is

he meows his answer

the room

quiet as butter across bread

quiet as the sugar

that melts in the tea at tub’s edge

she thinks of  pretend tea parties

sitting at the bottom of the pool

quiet in the noise of childhood

passing cups       pouring tea

until breath runs out and small bodies emerge

and discuss who pours next and if sandwiches

or cake will be shared below water

after a swim

her mother spread butter on bread

brushing sounds in color washes

her voice

like the sound of water lapping

safe as the yawn of a cat

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