Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

For the sake of ornament and illumination.

Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 4:53 am

50 WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR LAMA, by Charles Carreon

(Loosely, to the tune of Paul Simon's "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover")

They’ve been enslaved so long, says Ambu wistfully,
The answer’s easy – but they won’t think logically.
They’re scared to ask for help as they struggle to be free, but
There’s at least 50 ways to leave your Lama.

She continued, with a serious attitude,
Unconcerned that she might be misunderstood,
Her thoughts oppose authorities, who say she’s rude,
But she knows 50 ways to leave your Lama.

Try these:
Just ease up on the sauce,
Norbu;
Ain’t ya’ heard of a condom,
Tendzin?
Get a grip on yourself,
Sogyal.
Just do it naturally!

Say:
I just don’t think like Naropa,
Trungpa,
I’d rather count my own money,
Kazi,
Not if we can’t tell nobody,
Kalu.
You’ll feel Mongolian-free!

Recite:
You’re not as big as your Daddy,
Sawang;
Jetsunma is a joke,
Pednor,
Ya’ got the wrong Karmapa,
Dalai.
We ain’t in Lhasa, ya see?

Well how can she expect a heart to bear this lonely pain?
To break the bonds that keep you spiritually safe?
Well she appreciates that, and help is on the way,
In the form of
Fifty ways to leave your Lama.

You love to meditate, but it makes you so uptight,
Behind the serious looks you use to block the light,
And when she kisses you, you’ll realize she’s right
And recognize you need one of these
Fifty ways to leave your Lama.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 4:55 am

A CHILD'S NIGHTMARE, by Charles Carreon

H. A. Guerber, The Myths of Greece and Rome wrote:Hercules, son of Jupiter and Alcmene, found Prometheus, killed the vulture, broke the adamantine chains, and liberated the long-suffering god.


I liked the Prometheus story from childhood. A real anti-hero he was, braving the wrath of the gods to provide us with the means to cook our food, light our homes, warm our bodies, fire our cars, power our appliances, run our factories, wire up our networks, burn our enemies, and cremate the planet. Maybe Jupiter knew what he was doing. He may have known that, however much you refined animals, getting Eros to breathe life into them, and Pallas Athena to endow them with souls, they would still be incapable of wisdom. Fire, thus, should remain off limits to them.

Our current planetary crisis, in which politicians smoke up the last of the atmosphere with their cigars, turning the whole planet into one big smoke-filled room, and spray radioactive isotopes around like confetti, while species expire faster than the national debt explodes, is of course based on fire. But that's a lot like that statistic that concludes bread causes crime, because over ninety percent of all crimes are committed within twenty four hours after the consumption of bread. It's not the fire, it's the assholes burning down the world who are the problem.

When I was a child I had recurring nightmares when I was three, four, five years old that would wake every person in the house. Outrageous screaming, kicking, yelling, freakout nightmares every goddamn night. Drove everybody crazy. I was famous for it, and such a cheerful child when awake. Miserable, too, because they were always the same, in black and white. Two men, one tall like a beanpole, the other short and squat like a black pot, had a weapon that looked like a mortar tube that would spout a fountain of flame that they would use to catch the whole world on fire. The dream always ended with the entire world on fire, 360 degrees all around the horizon nothing but flames. Real scary.

Of course I could read at four, and the headlines screamed war war war, communists, red trials, etcetera everyday. Commies, Japs, Krauts, the Hun, all that war jargon was still thick in the air. My uncles were all heavy drinkers, because they had been "GIs" in the war, and they liked to take the weight off their heads. Everybody drank a lot in those days, and smoked like chimneys. More fire.

I was sure glad when I stopped having that recurring nightmare. It was embarrassing as well as painful. But I minded the pain more than the embarrassment. It was absolutely terrifying, everything on fire.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

My best memory about fire came about one morning when I was four years old. The night before, I had bundled up with my Nanita Trini Noli's family, riding in the pickup truck driven by her son Pete, a big Apache with hair black as coal, a smile and time to be friends with a four year-old kid. During the night we drove the windy desert road up to Wickenburg from Phoenix, and then into the hills around Wikkiup. In the morning, as the dawn light brightened the cab of the pickup, we were jouncing along a dirt road, and as I woke, I smelled the most beautiful campfire smoke I have ever smelled. Must have been mesquite or juniper. It was like the finest incense. Shortly after that, I learned that the smell was from the woodstove of the bunkhouse kitchen. We ate breakfast with like twenty cowboys who were shovelin' down huge portions of food that the cook was dishin' up with a generosity I'd never seen before. Then I got a taste of warm, fresh cow milk. So many new experiences on that trip. Tara put up a picture of me in the chile patch that was taken by Pete's sister Patsy, who was really cute, a beautician who married a German pilot. Always a class act that Pat. Pete also made good in a solid way. Became a plumber, and bought his own ranch, married his gorgeous mexican high school sweetheart Maryanne (who Patsy didn't really like at first), and stayed married. I saw Patsy at my Dad's funeral a couple of years ago, with her husband -- she has so much dignity.

I thank my stars for the simple influence of Nanita and her family, who gave me a home that my parents, with their tremendous intellectual and political awareness, couldn't quite provide. Somehow my family was capable of talking about the most high-flown topics in a house that was literally, at times, falling down around us. Surrounded by stacks of books and papers, having to clear a place on the dinner table to eat, or a place on the couch for a visitor, or even yourself, to sit.

Nanita wasn't like that. Her house was neat. There was always good food in the kitchen. There were usually other kids around to play with, although my Dad thought these children weren't that smart. And Nanita did awesome things, like wash laundry with her breasts exposed (and they were quite large), and pound deer jerky with a hatchet on the wooden kitchen floor. (It breaks up the fibers so it's more tender.) Nanita died in her mid-sixties after a long period of being bedridden after she fell out of a fig tree. She had been picking figs to make jam. She made the most incredible fig jam.

When she was dying, I had just returned from Europe. Everybody said she was asking for me over and over. I had been, they all said, her last child. I made it to her bedside several times. She knew I was there. It was really great. I wish that I had that opportunity to say goodbye to my own mom, who died suddenly, or my dad, who died by himself in a nursing home after two years of quietude. But I was lucky to be there with Nanita.

The whole business of dying, and of wanting company when you’re doing it, is important. People say you always die alone, but everyone seems to like some company. Oh, sure there are those lamas who die propped up among pillows while saying "HIC!" and sit there for a week before they fall over, thereby displaying a miraculous feat. And they wouldn't care if they were alone or at the Jefferson Memorial. They're ready to die alone or in a crowd. But for the rest of us, c'mon, gimme some company. Fucking stick around for me to go -- I won't keep you long.

The dying are jealous of the living, because they can't trade places. The living have nothing to gloat about, though.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 4:59 am

A FLAMING FISTFUL OF REACTIONARY WISDOM, by Charles and Tara Carreon

Image

Are you a traditional Buddhist? Does it just chap your hide when you hear someone accusing traditional Eastern Buddhism of an authoritarian agenda? A little slow on the trigger with snappy comebacks? This short essay will change all that forever. Never again be left undefended when unexpectedly assailed by a sharp-witted anti-authoritarian. You too can stand tall, knowing that you are packing a Doctrinal Defender argument, neatly classed for swift deployment. These tried and true zingers will set your opponent on his or her ear, contemplating the incontrovertible core of your argument. Classed into nine basic categories, this flaming fistful of reactionary wisdom will be your dogmatic sidearm.

"It's Bigger Than All That"

This general purpose put down is best delivered with a long look down the snoot. As the words drop, exude pity for this miserable insect who has no idea how blooming wonderful this whole damn spiritual circus is. Hard to beat, this will work equally well as a brutal rebuff to a newbie or a deft snub against seasoned adversaries. At a loss for words when caught consorting with authoritarian henchmen? Just drop into this self protective crouch -- and as you come out of it, demonstrate genuine surprise that your adversary just doesn't understand how blooming wonderful this whole damn spiritual circus is. The following list of related doctrinal arguments can be deployed against hard cases. Just say them naturally, with that tone of pomposity that befits your station as an elder student, even if you're still trying to get your mala to get that worn look.

• This is the ignorant thinking of the five skandhas.
• Maybe you're not ready for the "radical" path of enlightenment.
• All of our experiences are equally illusory.
• We voluntarily choose to lose our freedom in order to gain a higher freedom.
• You are mixing political ways of organizing society with the process of transmitting fundamental understandings of truth, which is a totally different matter.
• Abusive authority is part of the tradition: Naropa/Tilopa. Zen practitioners getting hit with a stick, or slapped with a shoe over the head.
• If we have faith in the Buddha, all our experiences will be purified.
• The teacher is not here to facilitate a consensus.
• Freedom is impotent to address important spiritual issues.
• Humiliating yourself is part of getting rid of your ego.
• We have to suspend our judgment when it comes to having faith in the doctrine.
• We can't apply rational criteria to the choice of a guru.
• Empowerment is necessary to confer the divine state and give permission to practice.
• Temper tantrums and whims of the guru are manifestations of divine play.
• Vain gossip causes harm to others.
• Bliss will only prevail when you develop peace and love.
• Buddhism is about an invisible reality, not a materialistic reality.
• Let's "move beyond" the simple black-white issues presented here to something more positive.
• Enslavement to Buddhist authority, or any other authority, is the least of my concerns because for the most part I am a total slave of my mind. Just when I think I have made progress, and liberation is close at hand, I discover I have built a bigger and more beautiful jail.

"It Works, That's Why"

This category is overused because Americans are so practical. We just want to get the job done, okay, get enlightened, get home in time for supper. It's a button-down, business-like category that will make you look like a schoolmarm if you use it too often. So be careful, at the risk of becoming terminally uncool.

• Don't give scope for ill feelings and worthless talk.
• Many important persons are Buddhists.
• Rebels always lose. Fighting authority is a naive fantasy. The authorities rule because they are right.
• Erratic or abusive practices are sometimes used by Eastern masters to stop the rational mind and allow enlightenment to enter.
• The guru-disciple relationship is essential.
• Some people benefit from being regimented. It is skilful means.
• Control is necessary; otherwise we won't grow.
• People need "more rules," not less.
• Humiliating yourself is part of getting rid of your ego.
• It is beneficial to apply various forms of friendly persuasion, peer pressure, righteous indignation, and shunning, for the benefit of your dharma brethren.
• Use various analogies: the student is a sick patient; the guru the doctor. The student is clay; the guru is the potter.
• Worship isn't for the guru's sake but for the student's.
• Devotional practices rely upon community standards and a sense of self that we need to develop in the United States.
• If we regulate ourselves with standards of ethical conduct, we can derive the greatest benefit from the religious group while minimizing the risk of exploitation.
• We need to develop a genuine understanding of the dharma to address and alleviate our fears.
• The scriptures and the teachers are the prime sources of religious authority.
• It is a waste of time to carry tales about others.
• Buddhist organizations sponsor a lot of charity activities.
• It does some people a lot of good.

"Shutup!"

This is a very popular category, probably because you don't have to be very smart to deploy these zingers. Takes you right back to grade school.

• Anti-authoritarian ideas are advanced by negative-minded individuals.
• If you doubt the traditional system, it's because you are of poor character and lack life experience.
• Only those who observe silence are good people. Silence fosters purity. We should observe silence at all times.
• Just get over it!
• You're mean!
• That's the way the system works! Complaining about it is just a waste of time.
• Don't sow discord.
• You're going to vajra hell with that kind of attitude.
• You just don't understand how it all works.
• Don't harbor any undesirable thoughts.
• Vain gossip causes harm to others.
• Your information is false propaganda, gossip and misleading information.
• Your arguments have no foundation. They are hearsay.
• It's traditional.
• Your information isn't impartial, because it is subject to your own biases.
• Psychologists say that anything that creates or sustains enmity with anyone for any reason carries the seeds of its own destruction and is stalked by what Jung calls "The Shadow" which MUST turn itself upon those who invoke its energy. It also throws those who act out in this way entirely into delusion, a delusion made worse when a group rallies around LA CAUSA.. That's the rules as the psychologists explain them, over and over again.

"This is Much Better Than Anything We Have in the West "

This category capitalizes on the inherent sense of inferiority that Americans feel when faced with saintly-seeming Easterners in colored robes. We didn't grow up with it, and we don't know how it works, so we'll believe anything. Your basic Texas oil scheme in the spiritual patch. If you've got the stomach for it, grab a piece and hang on, because this stuff will sell!

• A guru goes beyond the boundary of control which many Americans adhere to.
• We are ethnocentric and have a fear of weakening our cultural foundations.
• Working with a guru can be one of the most sublime experiences of one's life.
• Ignorance is on the rise with the progress of science.
• All the trials and tribulations faced in this world are due to the so-called developments in science and technology.
• Americans are not comfortable with spiritual explorations into unknown and irrational realms.
• Bliss will only prevail when you develop peace and love.
• Buddhism is beyond democracy.
• The dysfunction in our society creates the opportunity for Buddhist cult abuse.
• The exclusively rational, intellectual approach to life has made Westerners feel alienated.
• Western thought is a dangerous obstacle to spiritual knowledge. We must reject scientific inquiry to be rid of duality and domination.
• The anti-cult movements have presented a distorted view of Eastern spiritual religions which brings to the fore Americans' deepest fears and imaginings: mind control, total negation of reality, and allegiance to a human being rather than God.
• The Internet is poisoning the village environment, which is the epitome of peace and love. Don't spoil the village atmosphere by imitating the city culture.

"One Bad Apple"

Everybody remembers this song by Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five, "One bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch, girl." You may recall that our grandparents had a different take, believing that indeed one bad apple would ruin the entire lot, and I dare say they had more experience with barrels of apples than all five of the Jacksons. Be that as it may, the argument has numerous adherents, as the following quotes will show.

• My group is not like that.
• We have to look at these things on a case by case basis.
• Maybe you just came to it with a bad attitude.
• Those stories are so old.
• That was settled and probably was the result of some plaintiff lawyer's lying.
• Hell hath no fury ...
• While scandals do come from some Buddhist groups, many others provide a necessary, wonderful service.
• People make mistakes.
• Not everyone had your [bad] experience.
• Your experience is unique.

"Assumption of Risk"

This is a legal term for "you had it coming." As in, "you had it coming breaking your neck flying down that hill on that snowboard like that." As in, "well, when you dress like that, what did you expect, he may be a priest but he's only a man!" The assumption of risk theory makes your average church yard look more dangerous than a toxic dumpsite, since you went there with your faith in your hands, you idiot, just asking to be taken for a ride. The problem with the assumption of risk defense is its excessive candor, but aside from that drawback, is a very useful first strike strategy.

• You were offered the chance to investigate and inquire. You had a chance to stay or leave.
• The teacher provides the necessary philosophical and practical guidance, but the student is still responsible for his or her own practice and development.
• Let the buyer beware.
• We have to take personal responsibility for whatever happens to us.
• Garbage in, garbage out.
• If you had a real problem you'd take it to court.

"Gurus are Special People"

This category is very large, and seems to comprise quite a bit of the heavy timber in this structure. These are tautologies at their best, solid to the core, because of their unitized construction. You can rely on these phrases, because they depend upon nothing.

• The Buddhist leaders are representatives of the Buddha.
• The student must have faith in the guru no matter what action the guru takes.
• Any problem is our own fault, not the guru's.
• The greater the devotion, the more blessings one receives.
• The guru is a form of Buddha's presence, presenting the divine in a manner people can relate to.
• The guru-disciple relationship offers the possibility of tremendous spiritual growth, healing, and a powerful change in outlook.
• We can't apply rational criteria to the choice of a guru.
• Veneration is necessary, because a guru embodies divine power, and is capable of bestowing grace.
• A guru is the only person who can dispel darkness with his vast knowledge.
• The guru is a source of revelation, interpreting and influencing the tradition's development.
• True knowledge can only be obtained through a teacher.
• The guru is a spiritual guide leading the disciple to Absolute Reality, the nature of Being.
• The relationship between a guru and his students is heart to heart and is prompted by selfless love.
• Gurus are above the ethical laws that apply to everyone else.

"We'll Side With the Majority After All"

We wanted to call this "consensus redux," to encapsulate the notion that, however much a movement rejects consensus decision-making, when it lacks the power of the majority, once it can invoke the authority of widespread acceptance, it will immediately do so.

• If the system was bad, why has it survived all of these years? A lot of people couldn't be wrong.
• Well, at least we can get along with others.
• Nobody likes you.

"Jar Jar Speaks"

Sometimes things are put forward in a manner so beeble-bumbled that they have to be dedicated to the God of inarticulateness, which for us is Jar Jar Binks. Here you go.

• Authoritarianism/Anti-Authoritarianism is part of the "first tier thinking" which occurs before the revolutionary shift in consciousness where "being levels" emerge.

That pretty much wraps it up. If you're still here with us, thank you. We will try to think up some rebuttals to these rebuttals, but just right now we're feeling a powerful urge to regret our apostasy and engage in some full-scale repentance and ice-cream eating.
________________________________________

Advanced Teachings on Repelling the Rebels -- The Ear-Whispered Teachings of The Warriors of Traditionalist Dogma. These hand grenades of authoritarian Buddhism are entrusted to those with the courage to bandy doctrines boldly. Leave them stunned with these brain-stoppers.

A PERSON OF KNOWN ORIGINS CAN NEVER BE AN AUTHORITY

Originally pointed out by Jesus of Nazareth, who responded to local criticisms by observing that "a prophet hath no honor in his own country," this wry observation has been hammered into a rule of universal application. As a result, spiritual adulation can be lavished upon any ham-brained, be-robed individual of Mongolian extraction with enough moxie to sit on a throne while acting (pick one or more: profound, benign, whimsical, attentive, subtly threatening, or humorously avaricious). While they eventually may lose stature when they lurch drunkenly at a pair of mammaries attached to some hapless devotee (Sogyal), or engage in too many tall tales and blatant solicitations for cash (Kusum Lingpa), still they will be treated as authorities, because of the corollary rule, which is:

REGARDLESS OF OTHER CHARACTERISTICS, YOU CONTINUE TO BE AN AUTHORITY SO LONG AS YOU ARE SO RECOGNIZED BY AN AUTHORITY

This rule means that, until the Pope says to kick the guy out, the pervert priest can still say Mass and continue to defile the bodies and spirits of the young. Until actually ousted and defrocked, any authority can continue to exploit their position.

This rule is so powerful that we can even make gold out of clay -- witness the tulkufication of Catherine Burroughs and Steven Seagal, and the trail of self-stuck idiots that Kusum Lingpa has left in his train by haphazardly recognizing anyone who gives him the right ass-kissy vibe as the reincarnation of some heretofore unknown Tibetan saint. And despite all of Burroughs' Leona-Helmsley-style antics and the very absurdity of Seagal's posturing as a spiritual guide, until their "recognition" is withdrawn by Pednor Rinpoche, they will continue to collect accolades from the faithfools.

Examining the implications of these two rules, we see a third:

WESTERN PEOPLE WHO DON'T BUY AUTHORITARIAN HEIRARCHY CAN NEVER SAY ANYTHING VALID

First, since they are western, they can't self-authorize,
So they need to be recognized by an authority,
But since they reject authorities, they will never obtain such a recognition,
Therefore, nothing they say will ever have any validity to the true faithfool,
Because faithfools only evaluate ideas based on the identity of the speaker, and never on their merits.

Having gone through this analysis with respect to any speaker, a true faithfool can safely stop his ears once it is clear the speaker has no authority.

However, there is one last rule every good faithfool should keep in mind, to avoid dissing your own kind:

ANY STATEMENT BY A PERSON WHO PROFESSES FAITH IN AUTHORITY IS PRESUMPTIVELY VALID

Aha, you were waiting for this one, weren't you? This is why it is worth having a "Free Tibet" bumper sticker, or otherwise announcing your alliance with the authorities. To gain the benefit of the rule, simply append to any damn thing you say, the following: "I speak not from my own knowledge, but simply in repetition of what the gurus have declared -- it's all in the teachings -- I have nothing to add that hasn't been said before."

WARNING: THIS LINE OF ARGUMENT HAS BEEN PROVIDED AS A SERVICE TO THOSE PERSONS DEDICATED TO LIVING INSIDE A SAFE, AUTHORIZED BELIEF SYSTEM, SO THAT THEY WILL NOT BE TEMPTED TO OPEN THEIR MINDS AND INHALE A NEW THOUGHT THAT COULD BE POISONOUS TO THEIR ENTIRE WORLD VIEW AND RESULT IN THE WASTE OF MANY HOURS OF DEVOTION, MEDITATION AND SELF-ABASEMENT. BY RUNNING THROUGH THE ANALYSIS IN ADVANCE, YOU WILL NOT BE CAUGHT UNPREPARED. THE WORKINGS OF THE MACHINERY HAVE BEEN REVEALED ONLY BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT THE FAITHFOOL WILL NOT BE SHAKEN BY ANY OF THE HOKEY SARCASM THAT FILLS THE INTERSTICES OF THE ARGUMENT, AND SO THAT THE DEVOTED FAITHFOOL CAN BE READY FOR THE SORRY-ASS ATTACKS THAT WILL COME FROM THOSE STUPID ANTI-AUTHORITARIANS.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 5:01 am

A LAW UNTO ITSELF: THE VATICAN RULES, by Charles Carreon

"One of [Father Francis P. Rogers'] victims described waking up intoxicated in the priest's bed, opening his eyes to see Fr. Rogers, three other priests, and a seminarian surrounding him. Two of the priests ejaculated on him while Fr. Rogers masturbated himself. Then Fr. Rogers sucked on the victim's penis, pinched his nipples, kissed him, and rubbed his stubbly beard all over him. The former altar boy, whom Fr. Rogers began abusing when he was about 12 years old, remains haunted by memories of the abuse more than 35 years later.
-- Report of the Grand Jury Into Sexual Abuse of Minors by Clergy in the Philadelphia Archdiocese


January 26, 2006

Hey, What Wise Guy Sued The Pope?

It had to happen, sooner or later, that someone would try to sue the Pope, to try to ensnare the man at the top of the world’s wealthiest religious organization in the rogue-priest pedophilia scandal. The Church has harbored abusers of the flock since its earliest days. It is however a recent development to discuss priestly sex abuse, and proportionately few victims have actually filed suits for compensation. This is the first Pope who has ever had to think about how to dodge as much financial liability as possible from this long-delayed inferno of payback. For this is a passionate issue, one that has caused state after state to extend its statute of limitations to allow claims of clergy abuse to go forward despite the lapse of decades. Legislatures have been made to understand that priestly abuse does not surface quickly, and the special position a priest holds among parishioners makes an assault upon his dignity unthinkable.

There Were No Good Old Days

One might wonder, if one were skeptically inclined, what need anyone has for membership in a monstrously wealthy institution ruled by Italians, based in Rome, that claims, in spite of all appearances to the contrary, that its “Pope” is the current representative on planet earth of a very unworldly man. In the middle ages, the Church served as an alternate occupation for the wealthy who didn’t relish life as a soldier. There was good food, wine and reading material in the Church. Nunneries served as whorehouses, clerics did the accounting for the feudal system, platoons of hymn-chanting acolytes kept the sacred batteries charged with virtue, while peasants starved or fed, as was God’s will. When the Popes were based in southern France, they charged large sums to license drinking establishments, prostitution, and all manner of moral fault that could be profitably practiced by the merchant class. Today, the Church is a humorless corporate institution that protects its assets with legal stratagems, such as the one that the Pope used when he finally did get served with a summons and complaint alleging priestly abuse by one of his robed band of spiritual warriors.

A New Kind of Nation

The Pope got dismissed out of the lawsuit tout suite, because he is the Head of A Sovereign Nation – The Vatican. Okay, now I bet you thought it was cute the way the Romans let the Pope pretend to have his own government right in the middle of Rome. I always thought it was, even when I was a kid. It was like Disneyland, I thought, because a real country had like, an economy, and citizens, and principal exports, traditional cuisine, childrearing traditions, romantic cinema, and other things that the Vatican, a unisex institution, just will never have. As far as I could tell, the only thing the Church exports is incense smoke and papal encyclicals that tell woman not to impede their reproductive cycle, and that no, they still can’t perform the exalted ritual known as “the Mass.” The Vatican is indeed a very different type of nation. It doesn’t have, or need, preschools, grade schools, or high schools, but it’s very big on college degrees. It doesn’t have, or need, democracy, voting by its citizens, or a research and development budget to make sure the next generation will be economically competitive with the rest of the world’s population. Apparently, however, in the eyes of the American courts, when an American sues the Vatican, all that matters is the paper certificate. The Vatican has what it needs -- stocks, bonds, real estate, enormous buildings full of hard assets, and millions of believers all across the United States. Four of those believers sit on the United States Supreme Court, and when Judge Alito is elevated, there will be five.

The Jesuits are great lawyers, having had to survive and drive the Inquisition by their wits alone. Any good Jesuit would agree that where there are valid distinctions between groups, there must be differences in the rules that apply to them. A “nation” that doesn’t contribute to production by keeping the world in goods, or contributing to the job of keeping the species alive, doesn’t qualify as a nation. And if no one considers a place to be their “homeland,” as in “I was born there,” then wherefore is it anyone’s nation? The last Pope’s homeland was Poland, and the current Pope’s homeland is Germany. Neither of them spoke Italian as their native language, and the current Pope no doubt prefers bratwurst and beer to pasta and wine. The Church teaches that reproduction of the species is God’s will, but the Vatican produces no children, so as a nation, is it not violating God’s will? Others might say that when the leaders of a nation assists its citizens to injure people under the guise of giving them spiritual education, then it is a fraudulent and degenerate nation. That would seem to be the case with the Catholic Church.

The Philadelphia Grand Jury Findings

As we have learned through the sex abuse scandal, Church leaders across our nation aided and abetted serial sex criminals by maintaining their community status as venerated individuals and moving them to new parishes where their past conduct was unknown, where they could silently destroy the lives of another community of parishioners, then often enough, escape again with some money and a new place to go, when things once again got too hot. The Church was not just careless of letting abuse happen – it cloaked pedophile priests in secrecy, silenced accusations with a wall of denial, and fought legal claims tooth and nail. On September 15, 2005, a Philadelphia Grand Jury empaneled by District Attorney Lynne Abraham issued its report after three years spent studying a pattern of criminal conduct within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The report concluded that at least 63 priests – and likely a large number more -- sexually abused hundreds of minors over decades, aided by a coverup kept in place by the last two archbishops, Cardinals John Krol and Anthony J. Bevilacqua. Not mincing words, the report makes clear, “When we say abuse, we don’t just mean ‘inappropriate touching,’ we mean rape. Boys who were raped orally, boys who were raped anally, girls who were raped vaginally.” The report notes bitterly in its first pages that none of the abusers it had identified could be prosecuted, because “by choosing children as targets … abuser priests … were able to prevent or delay reports [and] statutes of limitations expired … As a result, these priests and officials will necessarily escape criminal prosecution.” Not only did the delay and secrecy erect successful legal defenses to criminal prosecution, it increased the number of victims and the severity of the abuse they suffered. The report stated, “Prompt action and a climate of compassion for the child victims could have significantly limited the damage done. But the Archdiocese chose a different path. Those choices went all the way to the top – to Cardinal Bevilacqua and Cardinal Krol personally.” “Even those victims whose physical abuse did not include actual rape – those who were subjected to foncling, to masturbation, to pornography – suffered psychological abuse that scarred their lives and sapped the faith in which they had been raised.” The Grand Jury concluded that although “the behavior of Archdiocese officials was perhaps not so lurid as that of the individual priest sex abusers … in its callous, calculating manner, the Archdiocese's 'handling' of the abuse scandal was at least as immoral as the abuse itself.”

Organized Crime or Random Perverts?

One thing is clear from observing the movements of the Catholic Bishops – they listen to Rome. There are occasionally some disagreements, but Catholics are expected to march in line or get out of the Church. So since it is in fact the case that the truth was hidden in Philadelphia, and in Boston, and in Chicago, Los Angeles, Portland, Phoenix, and every other big city with a Catholic pedophile lawsuit in progress, perhaps those orders came from the top. Perhaps Cardinals Krol and Bevilacqua in Philadelphia “were just following orders.” Perhaps Cardinal Law, who was virtually run out of Boston by a lynch mob outraged that he had hidden pedophiles in the archdiocese for decades, was also just following orders. Right after he lit out of Boston, he landed in Rome, where the previous Pope gave him a cushy position as a Church diplomat.

So did the prior Pope tell his Archbishops to stall this thing? Our current Pope could answer this question. Formerly Cardinal Ratzinger, the new Pope knows at least as much as he could learn from reading every report of priestly sexual impropriety for the last several years. That was his job under the former Pope, and the word is, he didn’t advise anyone to start writing settlement checks. At this time, not many Catholic lawyers are proposing settlement. The Vatican has been around two-thousand years, and it’s not about to lay down its arms over a little hanky-panky in the sacristy. Consider how the faithful, with sheeplike docility, are still dropping money in the pot, wondering if it will be used to pay lawyers to silence the claims of people who got a nasty dose of bad religion, and deserve compensation. More than anything, the scandal needs a thorough airing, and the chips need to start falling.

Grooming Victims In Sunday School

The usual belief is that, since religions do more good on balance than harm, we can tolerate a little pedophilia in the ranks of the virtuous. That seems to be the rule that explains why we tolerate hypocritical exploiters who wear robes. They talk about the meek inheriting the earth, as if that seems likely to happen; they promise peace in the afterlife, which is like selling insurance no one can ever collect; they preach patience during life, and acquiescence to authority. But all of these nice characteristics won’t keep your average pedophile out of jail. Experience shows that pedophiles do develop a pleasant exterior that is attractive to children. They listen to children, and respond to what they say. They groom their victims for victimhood by building a relationship of trust. Priests have much of this work done for them by parents and Sunday school.

From Hitler Youth To St. Peter’s – The Journey of A Lifetime

Ordinary perverts don’t enjoy priestly immunity for a simple reason – they haven’t earned it. To get people to overlook your faults, you must give them something in return. It’s not easy to go to seminary, study all that theology, and pay all that tuition. The current Pope, for example, actually had to pretend to be a member of the Hitler Youth to keep his scholarship for theological seminary. He explained that last year when he was being made into the first German Pope in centuries, and some people worried about the Germans getting too excited about it. Because Cardinal Ratzinger had been in Hitler Youth, he wanted people to understand that he got out of the organization officially as soon as he could, and thereafter just pretended to be a Nazi. This evoked some dubious looks among people who remember how upset the Nazis would get when they found out that one of their number wasn’t really a good German at heart. Pretending to be a Nazi could be very dangerous. So perhaps the new Pope was a specially brave man, pretending to be a Nazi so he could become a priest and someday, Pope.

That Crazy Thing Called Faith

Socially, the Church is in a very strong position because it controls minds through tradition and something its adherents call faith. It is strange that they call it faith, because that is what Islamics say informs their belief in a different Deity, and the same is true for the Jews, and the Hindus, etcetera. They all cite faith as the ground of their belief, but it results in belief in different things. But when people work jointly to generate a concrete result, they do not speak of faith. Prayers for rain are abandoned in favor of drilling a well or digging a ditch. Hoping for manna to fall is replaced by hunting for squirrels and pulling up roots. But if a concrete result does not have to be produced, people are comfortable relying on faith to produce it. So most expectations based on faith are scheduled for fulfillment in the afterlife. Donations to the Church, however, have to be made now. It was ever thus.

Serving God by Serving Mammon

Financially, the Church is in good shape. Too good a shape up in Portland, it turns out, to stay in bankruptcy. When the Archdiocese of Portland sprung a stinky leak in its scandal-soaked legal Attends, its lawyers dragged it into bankruptcy court, claiming it needed protection from its creditors. Nobody had ever noticed priests bouncing checks at the liquor store, or short a dollar in a local strip bar, so it took many people by surprise. Well, it turns out they’re still flush, and all the dancing around like one of Disney’s hippos in Fantasia, trying to hide its full-hipped bottom line, was just a ruse. The Archdiocese is stuffed with real estate and other eminently saleable assets, but Archbishop John Vlazny will be damned before he lets a penny of it go to sex abuse plaintiffs until he has exhausted every possible legal maneuver and paid his Catholic lawyer friends every dollar in fees he can squeeze out of the collection basket. So in an effort to wedge its ungracious bulk into the the framework of “insolvency,” the Archdiocese left all of its juicy real estate off the schedule of assets in bankruptcy. How did the Church lawyers explain this brazen stratagem? Because “under Church law,” that property was owned by various official and unofficial Church sub-entities, and couldn’t be touched to satisfy the debts of the Archdiocese. Fortunately, the bankruptcy judge checked to see that there was an American eagle on the wall and not a man bleeding on a cross, and instead of genuflecting, told the Church lawyers to file a schedule with all the property on it.

Time To Reconsider Whether The Vatican Is Really Our Friend

As always, the Church lawyers will quickly deploy another roadbloack to slow the advance of claims. Like the Philadelphia Grand Jury said, describing the delaying tactics of the archdiocese – “the biggest crime of all is this: it worked.” Yes, it works. Justice delayed is justice denied, and no one yet has exceeded the Vatican’s skill in outlasting its foes. But these days, the smell of false piety is insufficient to mask the stench of corruption, and the reek should motivate us to get to the bottom of the rot. We should begin by dismantling the mistaken description of the Vatican as a sovereign nation and the Pope as a Head of State. The Pope should no more be considered a head of state than Sun Myung Moon, who crowned himself in the Sam Rayburn building, or Bubba Free John, who owns an island in Fiji.

The Church’s reputation for sanctity is remade in every generation out of the pure new cloth spun from the hearts of fresh believers. The Church will never cease cultivating this illusion in the minds of those predisposed by birth or sentiment to believe that Jesus founded One True Church. But for those of us who live in secular, political reality, and have been reading history, not catechism, a new viewpoint is overdue. The Church is not a country, and if a clutch of Archbishops hide criminal acts committed by priests in our country, because the Pope directed them to do so, then the Pope can and should be sued. The current Pope may have had actual knowledge of the scope and severity of the clergy abuse scandal in this country, and ordered the continued strategy of concealment. The bankruptcy judge in Portland had the right idea – the law of our nation, not “Church law” should apply in our courts. The Texas judge who dismissed the lawsuit against the Pope erred by subordinating our laws to the pretensions of a religious sect that claims national autonomy despite its lack of a truly national character. With literally billions of dollars in claims from abused victims gathering on the horizon, and the assets of the Vatican itself at stake, the issue of Papal immunity from civil liability will eventually come before a Supreme Court with five Catholic justices. When that case comes before the Court, a lot will depend on Alito.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 5:08 am

A RAINY AFTERNOON AT PARQUE GUELL, DV recording by Charles Carreon

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Table of Contents:

Entrance and Tour of the Park Guell House
The Concert
Past the Hill of the Three Crosses
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 5:13 am

A SUMMARY OUTLINE OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION, by Charles Carreon

The Preamble: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Article I: CREATES CONGRESS

Section 1: GRANTS "all legislative powers" to "a Congress" composed of a Senate and a House of Representatives.

Section 2: PRESCRIBES 2-year elective term for House Members. REQUIRES certain qualifications for Membership: 25 years old, seven years a US Citizen, and a resident of the State that elects him/her. ESTABLISHES how to calculate number of Members that shall be accorded to each State (amended by Section 2 of 14th Amendment), and how to fill vacancies. GRANTS power to elect Speaker and other Officers, and the sole power of Impeachment.

Section 3: PRESCRIBES composition of Senate (2 Senators from each State), term of office (6 year elective term), and voting power (one vote per Senator). REQUIRES qualifications for Membership: 30 years of age, nine years a US Citizen, and a resident of the State electing him/her. Vice President is President of the Senate, with one vote that he may exercise only to break a tie. GRANTS power to choose their Officers, and a President Pro Tem; GRANTS power to try impeachments, with conviction only by a 2/3 majority. LIMITS penalty of impeachment to removal from office and disqualification from receiving government honor, trust or profit, but explicitly withholds any grant of immunity from separate criminal charges.

Section 4: PRESCRIBES requirements for elections of Congressional members, and yearly meetings of Congress.

Section 5: GRANTS each House autonomous rulemaking authority to govern its members and business; establishes majority as a quorum. REQUIRES each House to keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and permits one fifth of all present to require roll call vote. PROHIBITS either house of Congress from adjourning for more than three days without consent of the other house, or from sitting in another place separate from where the other house is convening.

Section 6: AUTHORIZES payment from Treasury to members of Congress for services rendered. IMMUNIZES members from arrest while en route to or returning from Attendance at the Session; IMMUNIZES from being "questioned in any other Place" for anything said while in session. PROHIBITS members of Congress from holding any other government office.

Section 7: REQUIRES all taxing bills to commence in the House, with the Senate having right of amendment. PRESCRIBES procedure for President to approve or refuse to enact legislation within 10 days (or it becomes law automatically); PRESCRIBES that a 2/3 majority of the Congress may override Presidential veto of legislation. REQUIRES Presidential approval or legislative override for all legislative enactments.

Section 8: AUTHORIZES Congress to "lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States." REQUIRES that "all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the US."

AUTHORIZES Congress to:

• Borrow money
• Regulate commerce among the States and with foreign nations and the Indian tribes
• Establish rules of Citizenship
• Establish Bankruptcy laws
• Mint money, set exchange rates, set Weights & Measures
• Prohibit counterfeiting
• Establish Post Offices and Post Roads
• Promote Science and Art by "securing for limited times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries" (copyrights and patents)
• Create courts "inferior" to the Supreme Court
• Define and prosecute crimes on the high seas and offences against the Law of Nations
• Declare War, grant "Letters of Marque and Reprisal," and make rules re capture at sea an on land
• Raise and Support Armies BUT "no appropriation of money for that use shall be for a longer term than two years"
• Provide and Maintain a Navy
• Exercise Miscellaneous powers pertinent to the Militia
• Govern the District of Columbia (not exceeding ten miles square)
• Make all laws necessary and proper to execute other powers

Section 9:

PROHIBITS:

• Suspending privilege of Writ of Habeas Corpus except when necessary for public safety in times of rebellion or invasion
• Bills of attainder or ex post fact laws
• Head taxes not in proportion to actual numbers
• Granting of trade preferences to State ports, or duplicate taxation of goods in transit
• Spending funds from the Treasury except by lawful appropriations. REQUIRES publication of accountings of expenditures.
• The United States from granting titles of nobility
• Officers of the Government from accepting titles from any King, Prince or Foreign State, except with Consent of Congress.

Section 10:

PROHIBITS the States from:

• Making Treaties
• Granting letters of Marque and Reprisal
• Coining money
• Emitting bills of credit
• Making any thing but gold and silver coin a tender for payment of debts
• Passing any Bill of Attainder or ex post facto law
• Impairing obligation of contracts
• Granting title of nobility

PROHIBITS the States from doing the following without Consent of Congress:

• Tax imports or exports except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection laws (and gives the US Treasury the right to receive the "net produce" of such duties and imposts.)
• Maintaining armies or making agreements to make war (unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay).

Article II: CREATES THE PRESIDENCY

Section 1:

GRANTS the President the executive power, for a 4-year term, to run contemporaneously with the Vice President's term.

PRESCRIBES manner of election: by a "Number of Electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress."

PROHIBITS any of the Presidential Electors from being US Officeholders.

PRESCRIBES manner of voting by Electors "in their respective states" [amended by 12th Amendment, which was then partially superseded by the 20th Amendment]

REQUIRES President to be a Citizen, thirty-five years old, resident of the United States for at least fourteen years.

PROVIDES for how to replace disabled President, for compensation for services (but Prohibits any other emolument from the United States or any State).
PRESCRIBES Oath of Office.

Section 2:

GRANTS:

• Title of Commander in Chief of the Army, the Navy and the Militia
• Power to require written opinions of the Principal Officer of each Executive Department on any subject relating to their duties
• Power to Reprieve and Pardon for Offenses against the United States (except in cases of Impeachment)
• To make Treaties with 2/3 concurrence of the Senate
• To Nominate ambassadors, Supreme Court judges, and any other US Officers whose jobs aren't defined in the Constitution (however Congress may create offices to be filled by appointment by the President, the Courts, or Dept Heads)
• To fill Senate vacancies
Section 3:

REQUIRES that President give a State of the Union address.

PERMITS President to:

• Convene and adjourn Congress on extraordinary occasions
• Receive ambassadors and other public ministers

REQUIRES President to:

• Take Care that the laws be faithfully executed
• Commission all the Officers of the US
Section 4:

LIMITS Grounds for Impeachment of President, VP, and all civil Officers of the United States to "conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors."

Article III: CREATES THE COURTS

Section 1:

GRANTS to "one Supreme Court, and such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish" the "judicial power of the US".

PROVIDES for judges to hold their offices "during good Behaviour" and to receive compensation "which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office."

Section 2:

GRANTS the courts power over all cases:

• arising under this Constitution
• arising under the laws of the United States
• arising under Treaties
• affecting ambassadors, public ministers and consuls
• under admiralty and maritime jurisdiction
• where the United States is a party
• between two States
• between citizens of different States

GRANTS the Supreme Court Original Jurisdiction of:

• Cases affecting ambassadors, public ministers and consuls
• Cases in which a State is the party

GRANTS Supreme Court appellate jurisdiction of all other cases, subject to regulation by Congress

PROTECTS right to TRIAL BY JURY of all crimes except impeachment.

REQUIRES that trials be held in the State where crime committed.

PERMITS Congress to designate the place of trial where the crime was not committed within any State.

Section 3:

DEFINES TREASON as "levying war against" the US, or "adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort."

PROHIBITS Conviction for Treason except on "testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court".

PERMITS Congress to prescribe punishment for treason, BUT

PROHIBITS imposition of punishment for treason extending to subsequent generations ("no attainder of Treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.")

ARTICLE IV: REGULATES RELATIONS AMONG THE STATES

Section 1:

REQUIRES each State to accord full faith and credit to public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of all other State courts.

AUTHORIZES Congress to create laws concerning procedure to give full faith and credit to acts of all States.

Section 2:

GRANTS to citizens of every State the privileges and immunities enjoyed by citizens of each State within its own jurisdiction.

REQUIRES mutual extradition authority among the States.

[REPEALED by 13th Amendment -- GRANT of right to slaveholders to retrieve escaped slaves as property.]

Section 3:

PERMITS admission of new States to the Union.

PROHIBITS:

• Formation of sub-States within a State

Formation of meta-States by merger of States or parts of multiple States, without concurrence of all involved States and the Congress.

Section 4:

GRANTS Congress the "power to dispose of" and regulate the "territory or other property of the US". (Non-waiver of any claim by the US or any States.)

ARTICLE V: PROTECTS THE CONSTITUTION

PERMITS Congress to amend on 2/3 vote.

PERMITS 2/3 of State Legislatures to call for a Constitutional Convention.

PERMITS 3/4 of State Legislatures to adopt an amendment to the Constitution.

PROHIBITS Constitutional amendment that would deprive any State of its voting representation in the Senate without the State's consent.

ARTICLE VI: SUPREMACY CLAUSE

REAFFIRMS debts and engagements of the Confederation.

ESTABLISHES Supremacy of the Constitution as Supreme law of the land.

REQUIRES US officers to be bound by oath or affirmation to "support this Constitution"

PROHIBITS any "religious test" as a requirement of government office.

ARTICLE VII: RATIFICATION OF THE CONSTITUTION

PERMITTED by nine States of the Thirteen
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 5:14 am

A TALE OF TWO CITIES, by Charles Carreon

Sep 20, 2005

In February 1953, 500,000 acres in Holland were flooded when high tides and gale-force winds overwhelmed dikes in the southwest provinces. It was a heavy blow to a country just recovering from a world war. During the flood, a doughty Dutch barge captain plugged a break in a levee by piloting his vessel into the breach, saving the citizens of Rotterdam from mass drowning in their beds. Over 1,800 people and 47,000 cattle died, and 3,000 homes and 300 farms were destroyed.

The 1953 floods in Holland and the drowning of New Orleans are similar in various ways. In both cases, the effort to protect land with levees and dikes was incomplete, and in some ways made matters worse. Both countries had neglected infrastructure repairs due to being involved in a war. Many scholars using computer models predicted a catastrophic flood as a near-certainty in New Orleans. In Holland, just a few days before the flood, the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management had published a proposal to dam all tidal inlets and estuaries in some of the very provinces most ravaged by the floodwaters.

After the flood, the Dutch followed the Ministry’s recommendations, and developed a formidable system on which Holland now spends $500 Million per year to protect their country from the sea. Amsterdam natives often remind visitors that, but for the levees and pumps, their charming city of canals and bridges would be entirely underwater. Since plans for the future New Orleans are currently uncertain, we must wait to see if the two cities will continue to mirror each other in recovery as they have in calamity.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 5:16 am

ALFRED BESTER'S OVERMAN, GULLY FOYLE, by Charles Carreon

Review of "The Stars My Destination," by Alfred Bester

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This book by Alfred Bester was published in 1957, and remains a classic of its time. A high-water mark of the imagination in any literary genre, this novel chronicles the revenge-fueled adventures of Gully Foyle, spaceman ordinary, and a pioneer in the evolution of "jaunting." If you have not yet read the book, and thus have no idea what I mean by "jaunting," quickly amend your omission and enjoy two happy days on this earth as you are swept up in its spell.

Jaunting is simply instantaneous teleportation of the human body to a known location by a mental act which can be taught, learned, refined, and extended both in range and accuracy. Most everyone does it, to some degree, except the very wealthy, who don't trouble themselves. Teleporting to work is of course how you get there, in the world of this novel.

Bester ascribes the term "to jaunte" to coincidence -- a man named Jaunte discovers his latent jaunting ability at the turn of the twenty-fourth century due to a fortuitous accident that happened to occur in full sight of a group of labmates. Bester explains it like this:

"A researcher named Jaunte set fire to his bench and himself (accidentally) and let out a yell for help with particular reference to a fire extinguisher. Who so surprised as Jaunte and his colleagues when he found himself standing alongside said extinguisher, seventy feet removed from his lab bench. Teleportation ... the transportation of the self through space by an effort of the mind alone...had long been a theoretic concept, and there were a few hundred badly documented proofs that it had happened in the past. This was the first time it had ever taken place before professional observers."

Of course, this could be nothing more than an amusing speculation in Popular Mechanics, and would have been in the hands of a lesser novelist. Bester uses jaunting to warp his novel into hyperdrive. The hero/villain, Gully Foyle, is abandoned on a spaceship, and acquires a full-face tattoo when his is "rescued" by a tribe of cargo-cult type techie asteroid-dwellers. Attempts to remove the tattoo have a bizarre effect -- the scars that remain behind attract blood and thus whenever he blushes due to strong emotion, the scars all light up in red, giving him a ferocious appearance. Thus, he develops tremendous self-control over his emotions, which makes him a giant in human society and enormously wealthy as Foyle the space-commoner reemerges under the pseudonym "Fourmyle of Ceres," who hosts enormous parties with the most extravagant pageants imaginable in this or any world, and is able to open any lock since he possesses every key.

Bester doesn't waste time in this novel, which vaults into its narrative and runs through the rest of the story like an athlete, an exhibition of grace and style that brims with energy, ratcheting from crescendo to crescendo until the insights are coming fast and furious, one upon the other. The insights are into the character of Foyle and the very nature of ultimate human potential. Character development is of extraordinary depth for a book as short as this -- a mere 258 pages in the Vintage edition I picked up not long ago.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 5:17 am

ANANDA AND THE MERCHANTS OF RAJGIR, by Baksheesh the Madman

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Thus have I heard. Once while seated in a cool grove near the City of Rajgir with Ananda, and beholding the shining city peopled with the people of Rajgir, the World-Honoured One spake thus:

"Ananda, this City of Rajgir has much wealth, if I am not correct."

"Yea, World-Honored One, much wealth indeed," replied Ananda.

"Ananda," asked the World-Honoured One, "are there many monks in the Sangha?"

"Yea, World-Honored One,” replied Ananda, "there are very many monks in the Sangha, as many as the inhabitants of a small city."

"Ananda," asked the World-Honoured One, "do these very many monks in the Sangha need such things as robes, sandals, food and shelter?"

"Yea, World-Honoured One," replied Ananda, "all of the monks in the Sangha require robes, sandals, food and shelter."

The World-Honoured One asked further, "Ananda, is much wealth required to care for the needs of the Sangha?"

Ananda answered, "Yea, World-Honored One, much wealth is needed to care for the needs of a Sangha that numbers as many monks as there are inhabitants in a small city."

The World-Honoured One asked further, "Ananda, have you spoken to the wealthy men of Rajgir, those skilled in crafts, in the making and distribution of valuable goods, in the creating of every pleasant and costly thing, concerning the needs of the Sangha? Have you spoken to those merchants blessed with the golden touch of Indra, who turn poverty to riches at the touch of their hand, to help them rise to greater merit and splendor by donating their riches to the Sangha?"

Then Ananda leaned forward to the World-Honoured One, smiling in a pleased fashion, and in lowered voice said, "World-Honoured One, indeed have I done these things. I have arranged the affairs of the Sangha so that the merchants of Rajgir, in order to ascend in closeness to your World-Honoured Presence, must compete in generosity to increase in merit. Thus have I induced the wealthy people of Rajgir to care for the needs of the Sangha."

The World-Honoured One asked further, "Ananda, is this the reason why you have on this day a more beautiful robe than the other members of the Sangha, is this why your sandals have a most pleasing style of workmanship, and your skin is delightfully scented?"

"Yea, World-Honoured One," replied Ananda, "rightly have you ascertained the source of these things, for from the greater abundance I have brought to the Sangha by my skill in handling the men of Rajgir, I have taken a small amount to purchase those robes and sandals and scented oils which I require in order to be fit for the company of the men of Rajgir, whose customs, as you have observed, are notable for their refinement."

"Ananda," asked the World-Honoured One then, "are you known as the World-Honoured One?"

"No," replied Ananda, revealing his right shoulder and inclining his head to the ground to show his respect, "World-Honoured One, only you are known as the World-Honoured One. I am known as the Bikkhu Ananda."

"Am I rightly known, Ananda, as the World-Honoured One?" asked the World-Honoured One.

"Yea," replied Ananda, "you are rightly called the World-Honoured, for all the world honours you, and rightly you are called the One, for you alone receive this recognition."

"Verily," replied the World-Honoured One to Ananda, "you speak rightly. I am the World-Honoured One, and you are not, because the World-Honoured One would not have done as you have done with the merchants of Rajgir, and one who does as you have done with the merchants of Rajgir would not be called the World-Honoured One, for he would not be honoured by all the world. Do you know, Ananda, why this is so?"

"No, World-Honoured One," replied Ananda, "I do not know why the act of providing for the needs of the entire Sangha could not be honoured by all the world."

"The reason, Ananda," replied the World-Honoured One, "why this act could not be honoured by all the world is because the merchants competing for merit would thereby be moved to jealousy, and others who have no means of acquiring such merit, would be moved to further jealousy, and therefore conduct such as yours with the merchants of Rajgir cannot conduce to universal honour. Do you perceive, Ananda, that this is so?”

“World-Honoured One,” replied Ananda, “I was only trying to help the Sangha to propagate the Dharma, relieving some of us who handle the administrative work from the burden of daily begging.”

“Ananda,” replied the World-Honoured One, “Before you became Bikkhu Ananda, were you a beggar?”

“No,” replied Ananda, “I was not a beggar, World-Honoured One, I was wealthy like yourself.”

“Ananda,” continued the World-Honoured One, “Do you wish to be wealthy again?”

“No,” replied Ananda, “I wish to be a Bikkhu and to follow your World-Honoured Self.”

“Then,” replied the World-Honoured One, “You must give up this notion that begging is to obtain wealth. Begging is to obtain poverty, not wealth. Do you understand, Ananda?”

“Yea, World-Honoured One, I understand.” Ananda then rose respectfully on one knee and supplicated before asking, “And now, World-Honoured One, may I respectfully take my leave?”

“Where are you going, Ananda?” replied the World-Honoured One.

“Oh,” replied Ananda, “No place special, I just have to cancel a party.”

Thus have I heard.

Baksheesh the Madman
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 5:24 am

ANCESTORS, by Charles Carreon

"The bad thing about when people die is it leaves everybody else fucked up. They're gone and it's no more problem to them. It's just sad for everybody that's left."
--Sonny Barger


Eloise

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It is a quiet afternoon, on a summer afternoon in Arizona, starting to shade towards dark. There is a helicopter in the middle of the street outside my parents' house. My mother is lying dead in the backyard, the victim of a tragic drowning accident. My two older children, whom she was supposed to be watching, instead saw her drown, unaware that she had suffered a stroke, and was not deliberately doing a dead-man float.

My wife screaming my name told me that horror had descended upon us. I vaulted over the eight-foot fence in one movement, and was in the backyard. There she lay, a mere 67 years old, not breathing on the concrete where Tara had dragged her. Tara ran inside to call 911. I began artificial resuscitation. It was the first time I ever touched my mom's lips with my own. We were very Mexican-Catholic that way. When the paramedics cut away her swimsuit, it was the first time I remember ever seeing her breasts, though she breastfed me. Everything, everything, everything about this scene was so horribly wrong. I had been a mere forty feet away, working on my truck, readying it for the drive back to Oregon. My mom had wanted to drive back with us. I told her to fly up in a few weeks, so we wouldn't be cramped like we had on the drive down with her a month earlier.

She had been clinging to the life and love of our family. The day before, mom had expressed how terribly she would be missing Ana, our youngest child, still a nursing infant, radiant as a china doll with gleaming ebony eyes. My mom, whose name was Eloise, was carrying Ana around on her hip, doting on her, and what came out of her mouth was, "Oh, you are so beautiful. I am going to miss you so much. Tomorrow I will be walking around here like a dead man."

Mama had become a prophet, and it was no surprise she had intuited her coming death. She was quite nearly a saint, not by virtue of attending Mass, although she loved to sing in the choir, but by virtue of her well-known kindness and generosity. When she met my Buddhist lama, she happily took the vows of refuge, joining our Buddhist family without hesitation. The lama, a mischievous man with a puckish sense of humor, responded to my suggestion that we get her some Dharma books to read with a dismissive wave, remarking with good-humored disdain and a wrinkled brow, "Books? What does she need with books?" I went on with a flowery statement intended to flatter myself by association -- "Rinpoche," I said, "if I have any seed of compassion, you see where I got it." The statement was silly, since all beings have the seed of compassion which is the seed of enlightenment, and Rinpoche's response was a pomposity-deflating riposte that still makes me smile. "Well," he replied, alluding to my seed of enlightenment, "before, I did not know you had one, but now I see that you do, so you must develop it." I never forgot how deferential Rinpoche, who rarely suffered fools of any age, had been towards Mom. He really acknowledged that her self-evident goodness required no improvement. I have felt her presence beside me at major decision points in my life again and again, guiding me to do only those things that she would be okay with, and it has never steered me wrong.

Mom's funeral was held a week after she drowned, because we kept her on a ventilator and watched her flat brain waves for seven days until my dad said to unplug the damn ventilator, because otherwise she was going to die of organ failure and basically rot in front of us. Well over a hundred people showed up to the funeral. I didn't know at least half of them. Many, many people introduced themselves and told me how much she had meant to them, of how kind she had been, of how fortunate we had all been to know her. None more fortunate than my brother, my father, and I. And none more bereft, now.

Guilt choked us all. My brother and Dad had been campaigning for a friend up in Prescott that day, helping a friend of my brother's who was running for Arizona Attorney General. Suddenly, their big-wheel political act seemed like a terrible, misplaced priority.

My father was furious with me. He barely spoke. His grief was like a huge, black iron that crushed everything. My father's whole life turned to hell, because I, the only man in charge of the house, had been doing some stupid, mechanical bullshit, instead of watching my mom. He never said this, but I knew he thought it. He wasn't into consolation. He'd spent the last eighteen years earning a federal pension, the two of them had just retired and bought a new house with a pool because, irony of ironies, after conquering a lifetime fear of water and drowning, she had become a daily swimmer. After a week of enduring my father's silent ire in the house inhabited by my mother's spirit, whose voice I could hear resounding in every room and hallway, we packed up and split for Oregon.

The drive home was a nightmare. We were broke, and our two new front tires were worn bald by the time we got to Lodi, California, because the idiot shyster tire guys in Phoenix had grossly misaligned the front wheels when they put them on. My mother-in-law helped us out with her credit card and a real decent guy in Lodi named Charles Gomes got us back on the road with a new pair of tires.

When we got back to our yurt on the Buddhist retreat land in Southern Oregon, I was saved from desperate grief by a miracle. Perhaps those who have never known the love of a truly kind mother cannot understand my grief. It was as if the sun had gone out. There was no sense to life at all. My son Joshua was devastated with guilt, being nine, and old enough to realize after the fact, that grandma had needed help, and he could have gone and gotten Mom, but he sent Maria, and Maria didn't understand at all that there was a problem, and neither did Josh, really. But everyone felt terrible, and Josh developed crying jags that would continue for an hour or more, when the grief and tears would flow uncontrollably. For truly, she had been like the sun for all of us, a source of love so dependable and true that it made the world bearable, and now she was gone, irretrievably gone. Things would happen, good or bad, and I'd want to call her, but I couldn't, 'cause I didn't have that number.

But we did get a miracle, and our lives were saved from utter destruction. The day we got back to Colestine Valley in Oregon, we saw that Rinpoche had begun a Great Work, the construction of a 22-foot high concrete-and-steel Buddha statue, to be built on a ten-foot concrete foundation. Rinpoche took me aside as we stood together, working on building the concrete forms for the foundation that we were constructing entirely without permits, zoning, or building code approvals. We were outlaw Buddhists, in every way. And as I stood next to my lama, he told me, "Don't do anything but work on this statue. Don't work for money or look for a job. Just do this, and dedicate the merit to the benefit of all living beings, with your mother as their representative." He turned to scan the work site, where about twenty hard-core hippies, ex-dope-dealers, scene-seasoned women, and deadheads were gaily doing the ultimate in New-Age construction work, working like beasts for free. Then he looked back at me and said, "These people don't know what this is all about. You do." He meant I knew that death is why we practice Buddhism.

I got the message and obeyed Rinpoche's command, for his words were commands to me. I always obeyed him. When he told me to stop fighting with Tara, I did. When he told me not to fall in love with other women, I stopped doing it. We had no money for three months, and lived solely on food stamps and on tiny donations from the dozens of people Tara was feeding. Rinpoche drove everyone mercilessly. The entire statue was built with hundreds of yards of concrete mixed and poured in small batches onsite, because no concrete mixer truck would cross the bridges between the statue site and Colestine Road. We ran wheelbarrows of wet cement up a twenty-five foot ramp at a 30-degree angle, using two-guy teams. We drank an endless supply of beer, ten or twelve cans a day, and barely felt it, we were working so hard. People fell in love that summer, some people ended up getting divorced. People came into the Sangha who have never left. We had genius-level people mixing concrete. We had abundant profanity and crude jokes. Much like the Blues Brothers, we were free to do anything to advance the project. We were on a mission from God. It was a hell of a scene.

During that summer, Rinpoche also wanted to teach us Dream Yoga, so we could practice meditation during our sleep, a time during which, as Rinpoche noted, we couldn't claim to be otherwise occupied with things like work or school. As part of the dream yoga teaching, Rinpoche taught us how to deconstruct the solid world of appearances, that he said was just a curiously-solid dream.

Rinpoche also taught us about how to disassociate names from their objects of reference. He taught us that "cup" is a word, and what it refers to is a piece of ceramic molded into a liquid-holding device that will someday break and not even be a cup anymore, but will become something called "trash."

Most importantly, Rinpoche taught us that our names were distinct from ourselves. To help us play with this concept, for one week we were assigned a practice called "transcending praise and blame." He told us that for one week, we should practice saying nasty, abusive things to each other. Being a gang of untamed post-hippie, proto-yogis with rock and roll craziness as our foundation, we took to faux-hostility like pigs to mud.

So on any given day, for at least a week, walking around the job site, people would come up and abuse you. Driving down Colestine Road, old Mitchell Frangadakis, the ex-grade school teacher, would pull over with Pat Hansen, the ex-Marine semi-hooligan, and we'd lay into each other with streams of invective, smiles showing all around. Then we'd drive off abruptly, apparently in a rage. It was hilarious, but I don't think we made much progress in dropping our self-regard. Maybe for Tibetans, the faux-abuse would have meant something, but hippies were used to behaving crazily, so it was basically just a hoot. Years later, I think we're all still attached to our names. In all candor, I had no real idea what the practice was all about until June, 2012.

The summer wound to a close, and I had to go back for my senior year at Southern Oregon State College. I was trying to decide what to do for graduate school after I got my B.A. in English. I knew I didn't want to be powerless and resigned, like all my friends who were English professors.

Shortly after Mom drowned, when she was in the hospital on the ventilator, I was watching a Sunday morning political show with the usual suits talking politics. I thought, "I could do that." Later, in the grocery store, I asked Tara if she thought I should be a lawyer. She said definitely, yes.

Three months later, I was standing with Rinpoche at the statue site. We were spreading concrete, I believe, and I said to Rinpoche, "I'm thinking of going to law school."

He said, "Do it."

I said, "It's kind of weird karma."

He said, "I think it's great karma."

So the matter was settled.

My grief became manageable as the joy of working on the statue of Vajrasattva, as the androgynous-faced Tibetan Buddha, draped in jewels and silks, became a huge reality -- changing figure before our eyes, and the knowledge that I was doing an act that could help my mother and all living beings soothed my pain. I became very, very poor, so poor I had no money for shoes. I had to go barefoot, like an Appalachian child, and I had children of my own. It was humiliating, and the first thing I bought when I got my student loan money was a pair of Chinese plastic track shoes so cheap the soles weren't even made of real foam, and clicked when I walked on the hard floors of the English department. But I made it back to the English department, and I got my degree, and I took the LSAT, and I got into UCLA, and I passed the bar, and I got a job at the world's fourth largest firm.

After I had been working a couple of years, my Dad came to visit, and we were walking to a Mexican restaurant for lunch, and as we stood on a street corner waiting for the light to change, Dad looked up and around, taking stock. We were both dressed in grey suits, because dad always wore a suit if he was in a business environment, and of course I wore a suit to my first job.

He looked up at the skyscrapers and then he looked at me and said, "Son, you've done it, you've really done it. If only your mother could be here now to see you." He paused and continued. "She told me, not long before she died, 'You know, Jimmy, I think that Charles is really going to do something.'" With that, I knew Dad had forgiven me for Mom's death, and he also put a burden on me. Because aside from getting a steady salary and paying student loans, I didn't think I'd accomplished enough to call it "really doing something." Mom had talked to my Dad, after all, who had high standards for such things. Mothers love us regardless of what we do. Fathers teach us to achieve goals. Between the two, we can learn the lessons that make us decent people. So we must ever protect their memory and their names.

Jimmy

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My dad's name was Conrado Santiago Carreon, "Jimmy" to most everyone. He had a ready smile, a courteous manner, and an intrepid way of engaging any other human being in conversation in virtually any situation. Dad had been orphaned by the flu epidemic, twice, in fact, losing first his natural parents, then his foster parents in Arizona. He grew up in L.A., on his own from age 12 on. He became a boxer fighting professionally during his teens, and nearly died of tuberculosis before the age of 25, a victim of drastic weight loss regimens he adopted to "make weight" and fight in multiple weight classes. His first wife divorced him and took his son while he was trying to survive TB. That son, "little Jimmy," as we knew him, met hard times early with a mother who was not like my mom. Little Jimmy was in and out of the military, out on the streets and into street life, which in El Monte, California, gets pretty heavy pretty quick. Jimmy eventually moved to Arizona with his wife Honey and their four daughters, who were totally fun cousins to barbecue and have a beer with, and for a while there we had some good times. But, it didn't last long. Jimmy's health caved in and he died in a rest home. A second son, Andy, was killed at the age of four in a car accident.

When he married my mom, dad joined the large Ainsa extended family, and things seemed to smooth out. His dynamism was well-received by my mom's family, especially during the depression and war years. Dad had a way of raising money, including running the occasional poker game. He truck farmed and got deals from other produce guys. He got into politics, and was elected to the Arizona State House of Representatives six times.

Then he went to Washington, D.C., and worked for the Department of Labor for 18 years. My mom stayed in Arizona, working as a legal secretary for the State. I went to military school in Virginia, and stayed with dad in D.C. on holidays. He was a frugal man, who sent my mom most of his salary, living very modestly in studio or one-bedroom apartments, always overstuffed with books bought in the city's many remainder shops.

Eventually, he got moved back to Phoenix for a few years, then he had to go to San Francisco due to office cutbacks. So he and my mom spent a lot of time apart. He had an unshakeable belief in the value of hard work, and worked himself hard his whole life.

My mother's death happened just after he had moved them into a new house. Mom had retired from her job less than a year before. They had prepared well financially for retirement, so he was actually having a pretty good time. Mom was a little at loose ends after being a legal secretary for many years, but her health seemed fine, and she had quickly taken advantage of her freedom to start spending time with her three grandchildren -- pure joy for her. To have it all end in an instant was a terrible blow to dad. He and I had only recently reclaimed our relationship after years of silence due to his alienation from my failure to pursue a college degree, early marriage, and disappearance to Oregon with my wife and newborn child.

Mom's death set us apart for many months, but when I told him I'd gotten into UCLA Law School, he helped us to move to L.A. and pay rent for many months. Dad was very fatalistic about my chances of sticking with law school. I suppose he'd never seen me stick with anything before, so why would I stick with something as difficult as law school? He really kept a lid on his scepticism though, because he never made a single statement expressing doubts about my resolve. Years later I realized that he had really thought that every challenge I was facing would be the one to defeat me. He kept expressing surprise at each additional success -- straight A's in my second semester of first year, a summer clerkship at the hot firm with the best salaries and parties, and finally a top-paying job at a world-class firm waiting as soon as I got my J.D. He never thought I had it in me. So of course, our relationship just got better and better as I became more and more of a professional.

I knew dad was lonely, and felt like I should move back to Phoenix when I got my first job after graduation. I flew out to interview and got several job offers. I stayed with him in the house where he had devoted a room to a display of mom's clothes, hung all over the room. The room ached with sadness. During my visit, he made it clear that he wasn't assuming I was moving back to Phoenix, and that I should work in L.A. if that was best for my career. He also made it clear that he would think better of me if I did not do insurance defense work, that he described as "hard on the soul." Fortunately, it was easy to follow that advice, thanks to getting top grades at a top school.

Dad kept an upbeat tone and a quick step as he aged. When we all moved back to Oregon in 1993, he came and visited for months, sleeping on my couch, while the life of a family with three kids and a lot of visitors boiled around him. Tara was working all week as a legal secretary at the now-defunct Democratic liberal Heller Ehrman firm in Palo Alto to earn some real money, while I studied for the Bar. She commuted back to Ashland on weekends, but the Bar happened during the week, so dad watched the kids while I went up north to take the Oregon Bar exam. The kids took advantage, and he got an eyeful. His stories about their carryings-on with other second-generation hippies were quite believable.

That was the last good time I spent with him, but over the years he had spent many of my first lawyer experiences right with me. He stayed in a Pasadena hotel with me when I took the Bar in 1986. He flew to San Diego to hear my closing in my first jury trial. I lost, and he was incredulous. My argument had sold him! He regained a measure of good cheer around our children, clearly his favorite people in the universe. I liked being with him. He was such a good man.

I think when it got dark, the sadness would get to him. At night, all alone, he could only think of her, the one who had departed, never to be seen again. He had always loved Edgar Allan Poe -- I even memorized much of The Raven to please him when I was around ten or eleven. Now he would quote the poem's lines, "seeking surcease from sorrow, sorrow for the lost Lenore ... gone, forevermore." His head would hang heavily then, and his arms go slack, his eyes would sadden and the corners of his mouth would fall. His loss was entire. Truly the world was of no use to him anymore. He merely kept going from sheer endurance, thanks to the stripped-down fitness regimen he maintained until even after he started showing substantial signs of Alzheimers in his late eighties. At that point, mercifully, he appeared to forget his grief. Unfortunately, he also lost all track of some people's true identities. He did not recognize me as "Charles," when I sat before him and reminded him, or rather, tried to remind him, of who I was. He could recognize Tara, but when she pointed at me and said, "This is Charles right here," he would say, looking at a photograph of me, "Charles is away, doing very important work." I was glad that he felt well about me, but I was puzzled, frustrated that, in essence, I was unable to visit with my Dad.

During the last two years of his life, I only came to see Dad a half-dozen times, for short visits of a few hours. I was a busy dad running my own business, with a lot of bills to pay, but now I really regret having shown him so little respect during those last two years. He didn't "know me," but I could see he knew I was "somebody," and that should have been enough for me. I should have made more of an effort to spend time being somebody with him.

I had an intimation I would fail in this way when I was living in Santa Monica. We lived five blocks from the Pacific Ocean in a beautiful house filled with light from ample windows, surrounded by green lawns and big trees. You could hear the ocean from that house during the quiet hours of night and pre-dawn. Tara and I slept on futons close to the floor. It was amazingly peaceful there, for L.A., and I usually slept very well.

I woke up one night with my eyes drenched in tears, from a dream that was breaking my heart. I saw my father, dressed in outdoor clothes, standing in the middle of a sandy lot. It seemed like it was a ranch out in the desert. He was all alone, except for a little dog, a really sweet little dog, that was keeping him company. I realized he was all alone, and I woke up with the resolve to make more of an effort to see him, but I didn't follow up. I just kept on with the once or twice a year thing, and the years went by.

My dad gave me everything he could -- a love for education, and a lifetime's worth of great examples of what it means to be a decent human being. He was generous and always respected people who do physical work. He talked to cabbies, waiters, and bohemians as if they were diplomats, as it often seemed they were. I always remember asking my mom what I should be when I grew up. A doctor? An architect? She just frowned and shook her head lightly as if to say that it wasn't an issue of becoming any particular type of working man. Then she said, "Just be a good man. Just be a good man like your Papa. He's a good man." I only wish I had absorbed all Dad's lessons on being a good man earlier, and that I were better at putting them into effect. All of his advice was good, and my life would have been better if I'd started following it sooner.

But I must say that the tragedy that my dad suffered, I have insured against. He loved my mother deeply -- they had wonderful, exciting years together before I was born. My father ran a string of businesses from agriculture to industrial roofing contracting. With my mom and my brother, he lived and worked in Mexico City for a year. Then he owned a hotel in Puerto Punta Peñasco Sonora for another year. Then he did the legislative job for no money, or rather, $1,100 per year, which is about the same thing. When he hit his fifties, he felt he had to buckle down and pull in that retirement money. So he missed a lot of years he could have spent with Mom. For Dad, the years of sacrifice were the right thing to do. Or so he thought. But it really came to naught, because having a retirement fund without Mom to spend it with was just ashes in his mouth. Which is why I've worked for myself for the last eighteen years. Most of the time my beloved is in her office, and I'm in my office at the other end of the house, a pendulum swing away from my Dad's way of doing things. But in our hearts, I know we have the same approach to life. A sense of gratitude for talent and opportunity, the guts to do something different, an unbending will when dealing with bullies, loyalty to those who have reason to depend upon you, kindness toward those who cannot harm you, and vigilance towards those who can – that would be my father's creed, and mine, in a nutshell.

I honor my Dad with my life, trying to show the same courage, calmness, and kindly strength that he showed me again and again over many years. I never stop mourning the unique, terrible loss he suffered. One night, not long after I had a dream about my mother, I wrote a poem to describe his sadness.

Is It Thunder?

Somewhere between the gold and the black
I lost you --
You fell from my hand
Like a card from the deck,
And you're gone--
I can't retrieve
the things that we had,
I can't reclaim
the hours that have slipped away.
There is nothing left but an empty horizon and you.
Like the sun coming out from behind a cloud,
A dream that couldn't be true,
You were a vision in sunlight and lace.
Never was there another face
Like the one
That you wore.
But now that you're gone I sit alone and I wonder,
Is it the sound of the rain that I hear?
Is it thunder?
Come back again in my dreams if you can,
You're welcome if ever you choose
To join me there,
I don't have much company these days,
I stay in the same old place
And I sit alone and wonder --
Is it the sound of the rain that I hear?
Is it thunder?
(Dedicated to my mother, Eloise Carreon and the Choir of the Sacred Heart)


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I never gave Dad the poem, or let him see it, because I can barely stand to read it myself. It hurts so much to read it, that I doubt I've read it more than a half-dozen times in the thirty years since I wrote it.

The dream that prompted me to write this poem came to me about a year or two after my mother died. In the dream, I was visiting her in a nice room where the sun was shining in through the window, and there were big green trees outside. Mom told me, "I'm in a choir. It's called the Choir of the Sacred Heart." She said, "I can't see, but I can help people." She sounded very happy, and I thought to myself, "Oh, this is wonderful. I am here with my mother, and I am fully aware of her presence." The light got brighter and brighter, and I understood that, like me, she couldn't see because of the light, but we were together there in the light. Then I woke up. I didn't feel like I'd wakened from a dream, but rather from a reality.

With that dream, I felt assured about my mother's current state. It put my heart at rest. She had more than once said that drowning seemed like the worst way to die. Perhaps because of this, I had suffered from the very painful, repeated, vivid imagining of how she might have suffered as she died, terrified and unable to help herself, with me unaware of her plight. After the dream, reliving the event that way came to an end.

My father apparently had no such reassuring experience, and became bitterly resigned during the last few years of his lucidity. He would go to church, go to Mass, but at heart he seemed to express his final judgment of the situation when he and I spoke one night outside an ice-cream shop in Phoenix. He had separated himself from my brother and his family, and Tara and our kids. He was standing, looking up at the sky out over the big parking lot, as if he might find some trace of Mom out there, in the absolute emptiness she had left behind. I came up and said something consoling about Mom. He said bitterly, not taking his eyes off the stars, "I will never see her again." This seemed so likely to be the truth, that I didn't argue with him about it then. I have no better arguments now. Somehow, however, I think that the peace and happiness he enjoyed with Mom during their good times together was not the end of all his happiness. Somehow I suspect that the essence of happiness is as indestructible as it is ungraspable. Like gold melted down and cast again into new coins, I believe that my father's bright and resilient spirit will take form again. And if not, then it's all the more important that his lessons live on in the way I live my life.
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