There Was a Time

Maggio Vietnam Wall RubbingIn high school, I worked two summers on the Hennepin Canal, a relic of the 19th Century connecting the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers allowing mules to pull barges from Rock Island to Chicago.

Although it was a “failure” — due to the simultaneous widening of locks on those big rivers that made it quickly obsolete — new engineering techniques required to construct it made the Panama Canal possible.

Lock 22
Hennepin Canal, Lock 22. This is what it looks like today.

One summer day, while I painted the Lock 22 bridge red with a hand brush — the last guy to do so since 1974 — a fellow worker just returned from Vietnam showed me his photographic scrapbook.

Full of dried Vietnamese ears linked together with twine to make belts.

Full of dried Vietnamese noses woven together with fishing lines to make necklaces.

He was proud of it.

Sensing a wave of bile rising to my throat, I turned away in disgust.  He’d married a neighbor girl, but I consciously never crossed his path again.

My draft number was 61 in 1972, but this was 1974 and the war was over.  Looking back, it may have been a good time to go into the service because I wanted to be a photographer/journalist and the bullets wouldn’t fly with fury again until the Persian Gulf War in ’91.

But those pictures made those ideas untenable, even though this was the Watergate era, the apex of newspaper journalism when everyone — it seemed — wished to be Bernstein or Woodward and the military would let me write and take pictures without a gun in my hand.

When I was a bartender at the Playboy Club (’79-’80), I’d hang out at the Billy Goat just to smell cigar smoke and catch a glimpse of my hero, Mike Royko, chomping a cheeseburger. The quintessential Chicago journalist who pitched softballs with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.

Mike Royco

This song is my tribute to those who served in Vietnam.

One of my best friends fought as an M-60 machine-gunner on a PBR craft, which was a twin-engine fiberglass pleasure boat built for speed and outfitted with twin M2HB .50 caliber machine guns forward in a rotating shielded tub, a single rear M2HB, one or two M60 light machine guns mounted on the port and starboard sides, an Mk 19 grenade launcher, and a Jacuzzi drive so it could enter the shallow water.

M60
M60

He speaks little of the combat he encountered in Vietnam, but I’ve shared hotel rooms with him and he gets up in the middle of the night, pounds the headboards with his fists until they’re bloody, and battles demons all night long. Talks to his service comrades throughout the night, those who lived, and those who died.  The few battle stories he has shared make me wonder why he sleeps at all.

A cherished mentor escaped the draft by going to college, but his younger brother served in the Army and volunteered for a rescue mission — even though he was at the end of his tour and knew he was going home to his family in a month. Refusing to turn his back on his buddies when they needed help, Randall Maggio paid the ultimate price.

Randall Maggio
21 years old

Randall Maggio Medals

The Maggio Way
The Maggio Way

This song does not pay justice to anyone who served in the Vietnam War.  I’m not even sure where it came from.  Suffering a long songwriting drought, I tuned the guitar to an open chord, and there it was.  The melody requires only the picking hand.

But I do know the pain and suffering that war caused still lives today.

I see it in my friends’ eyes, hear their screams in the night, and feel the anger they exude when confronted with the Vietnam Memorial Wall.  Randall’s brother Drex and I went to the Traveling Wall in Chicago one summer, but he couldn’t get near it.  I could see the veins in his forehead sticking out, his fists clenching.

Vietnam Memorial Wall

Vietnam was invaded at least eight times — in the modern era alonebefore our attempt.  We couldn’t even learn from the French, who were defeated by the same guy who kicked our ass.  We won a majority of the battles and killed an estimated one-million-one-hundred-thousand Vietnamese and Viet Cong, but lost the war for the very same reason the French limped home in disgrace.

Inadequate Education Mixed with Greed and “Christian” Nationalism

When a Supreme Court member’s moral stance is “I love beer!” and a ten-year-old has to carry her rapist uncle’s baby to full term — or risk being charged with murder — then it’s obvious we don’t even know our history going back a mere fifty years.

We’d already learned those lessons — as polio taught us about vaccines — but lightly-educated politicians in high places are now forcing the idea into ten-year-old brains that it makes perfect sense to murder their incestuous rapists because they’re going to face a murder charge, anyway.

Kill My Rapist
Kill My Rapist!

And now polio is back.

One has to wonder if sheep wormer will be prescribed for this new outbreak.

“Christian” Nationalists say they pray to Jesus, who as a Jew believed life begins at birth, not conception.  They don’t even know the God they’re praying to, much less read and comprehend a Bible that explains love conquers, and that we should render unto Caeser what is Caesar’s, and render unto God what is God’s.

A preacher I admire once said from the pulpit: "We want you to read your Bibles. Make no mistake. But please don't pick them up all at the same time because the resulting dust storm would blot out the sun."  

-- Reverand Bill Carter, Holston Conference, UMC

They do not know the horrific harms connected to a mixture of church and state foisted upon innocents across the centuries.  Our own brewing Civil War is a direct descendent of those historic horrors.

Now we have to learn them all over again via death and destruction.


I tried to research how many times Afghanistan’s been invaded, but I grew weary when I got to ten.  We couldn’t even learn from the Russians, who slunk home with their tail between their legs after the Taliban blew them out of the sky with US Stinger missiles carried by Tennessee mules.

Taliban and Stingers
Taliban and Stingers

There Was a Time is dedicated to those who served in Vietnam and live with its consequences to this day.

Our undying gratitude will never be enough, will never repair what’s been torn asunder.

 


There Was a Time …

Verse 1

There was a time when I was sixteen.

Didn’t have a guitar, and had no self-esteem.

There was a time when I turned eighteen.

Still unexposed to anything obscene.

Bridge

Then a letter came by the US Mail.

It said I had a choice:  Vietnam or jail.

Verse 2

I went to war. Yes, I did, and now

I flop around at night like an ocean squid.

I went to war. Yes, I did, and now

I flop around all night wondering what I did.

Chorus

We fought for the helicopter company Bell.

We fought for Dow Chemical as well.

Don’t ever get on the wrong side of The Man.

Do your stint and eat the Spam.

Vietnam or jail.

Verse 3

There was a time when we thought we’d win.

But the real enemy was lurking within.

That same country that sent me to war

Slaughtered my son at the Capitol’s front door.

Bridge

He was a fine policeman they said.

Then they jabbed a flag pole into his head.

Chorus

There was a time before we sold out.

There was a time when we had no doubts.

There was a time when we thought we’d win.

But the real enemy was lurking within.

 Copyright: Alarice Multimedia, LLC.

This Crazy Liberal Dude …

 

Subversive Literature
Subversive Literature

You should read it!

It’s a gruesome yet beautiful, redeeming love story about this crazy homeless liberal dude with long hair, one set of clothes, and dirty sandals who possesses an open heart, and an open mind, and then He opens doors and cares for immigrants (He was an immigrant himself), plus the sick and poor. Lepers.  

His best friends lived hand-to-mouth and stank of fish.

Wealthy “conservative” Pharisees and Sadducees don’t give a damn about the sick and poor who have already been born — they make it as hard on women as they possibly can — and they absolutely HATE the liberal.

They try to “own” Him several times, but His wit makes them turn away in shame.

“If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone.”

They accuse Him of being “woke” after His Sermon on the Mount opened everyone’s eyes with the concept of grace:   “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

The story is set in the past and the Pharisees and Sadducees don’t have AR-15s yet to turn Him into Holy Goo (not to be confused with the Holy Ghost), so they have to nail him to a tree.

But He wins in the end!

You’ll have to read it to see how.

It parallels exactly what you see on Fox, but with the lies cut out. And it gives you comfort when you read the END OF THE STORY.

Love wins!

Hate loses!

Goats on one side, sheep on the other.

Read!

Full Circle

Growing up on a hog farm, I saw hogs eat each other.  Especially when the “lunch” hog was sick, injured, or different in any way.

Every now and then you saw a hog born with both set of genitals. Hermaphrodites became prime lunch if they happened to be sick or weak.

When I read Orwell’s Animal Farm, these words rang true:   All animals are equal.  But pigs are more equal.   

So, to all my friends peeing their pants over immigrants on the border, I offer you something to consider:

The basic facts of American history.

After the Pilgrims landed, the natives showed them where the winter food stores were hidden in case they needed help. 

Those immigrants then ate the whole store and starved the Indians out.

A few years later these immigrants didn’t want to work so hard — and they loved the cash that free labor cotton raked in — so they enslaved 10.7 million fellow human beings. A team of these slaves built the White House and Capitol building under the immigrants’ lash.

Capitol
Credit:  Peter-Waddell

These particular immigrants treated other human beings like animals, splitting up families and breeding women like animals.

Now they are upset because a few of the slaves’ offspring act like animals.

Lately, these immigrants are slithering into public schools and mutilating school children they fear will one-day act as if they were animals and outnumber them.  

Fast forward to today.

White supremacists — the seed of these same immigrants who sucked down the generous natives’ food supply, enslaved fellow humans, and now slaughter school children — nearly finished the job by stabbing Capitol policemen in their heads with American flag poles and grinding democracy into the dirt with a gigantic Big Lie.

Mission almost accomplished.

Only one more insurrection and white supremacists will be free to build chimneys and eliminate all those who believe the sky is blue and water is wet.

They are now banning books.

They are now politicizing school boards.

My own novel was banned by the local library because it exposed the East Tennessee opioid culture.

This blog will put me up the chimney.  Indeed.

Only one more insurrection to go and we’re all in immigrant cockroach autocratic anti-Christ heaven.

Where immigrant cockroaches have nothing left to fear, nothing left to hate, nothing left to shoot, no one left to slaughter, no one left to beat, and nothing left to eat.  Except:

Each other.

Jesus and Germs

Dear Readers,

Here’s the latest cut, inspired by a motorcycle ride through lovely Western North Carolina.  Thanks for listening, praying, and washing your hands!

Jesus and Germs
Big minds tend to think scientifically.
Jesus and Germs

My buddy and I
Took a long motorcycle ride
Through North Carolina one day.

When we stopped for a bite
The front door was locked tight.
But through a window
They offered take-away.

While we waited to be fed,
 I saw a big sign overhead,
Its message shouted out to me.

It said:  please pray and wash your hands.
If you don’t, we can’t understand.
Jesus and germs are everywhere.

Germs and Jesus.
Germs and Jesus.

Are everywhere.

We’re supposed to love our neighbor.
Is that now out of favor?
It’s not your right to sneeze all over me. 

The Big Guy formed the oceans
The Big Girl made the seas.
Big minds think scientifically.

Germs and Jesus.
Does the thought make you squeamish?
Germs and Jesus are everywhere.

Jesus and germs
Maybe inside little worms,
Jesus and germs
Are in your hair.

Big Guy made the oceans.
Big Girl made the seas.
Big minds tend to think scientifically.

Germs and Jesus.
Everywhere.

(Copyright, Alarice Multimedia, LLC.)

Balance

We complain, blame God for

Pain.

Forget to give thanks for

Pleasure.

We suffer floods, curse His name,

Forget to praise the sprouting

Grain.

Our world seethes in Yin,

While gushing gracious Yang,

Equal parts solace,

Equal parts stain.

His work, our dalliance:

The Cross Road,

Where eternal fortunes

Hang.

— Gene Scott (20 August 21)

 

Balance
Balance

Opioid Deaths Sky Rocket

When Jellybeaners appeared in 2017 the overall death toll linked to opioids was 40,000 Americans per year. Now? It’s topping 50,000.

Here are the current statistics about the opioid epidemic from the National Drug Helpline:

OPIOID ABUSE AND ADDICTION STATISTICS

PRESCRIPTION OPIOID STATISTICS

  • In 2017, 1.7 million Americans had substance use disorders with an addiction to prescription opioid pain killers. A little over 650,000 Americans had a heroin addiction (with some overlap between the two).
  • In 2017, approximately 47,000 Americans lost their lives due to opioid overdoses.
  • National opioid prescribing rates started increasing in 2006 and peaked in 2012 at 255 million with a dispensing rate of 81.3 prescriptions per 100 Americans. In 2019, the dispensing rate had fallen to 46.7 per 100 persons with over 153 million opioid prescriptions dispensed. However, some counties had rates that were 6 times higher than the national average.
  • Opioid overdose deaths increased from around 21,000 in 2010 to nearly 50,000 in 2019.
  • Roughly 21-29% of people given prescriptions for opioid pain relievers misuse the medications. Up to 12% of people who use opioids to treat chronic pain treatment go on to develop opioid use disorder.
  • Around 4-6% of people who misuse prescription opioids later go on to abusing heroin.
  • 8 out of 10 heroin users started out by first using prescription opioid pain pills.

OPIOID ABUSE STATISTICS IN THE UNITED STATES

  • 1.6 million Americans have an opioid use disorder.
  • 10.1 million people report misusing opioids at least once in the past 12 months.
  • Among opioid abusers, 9.7 million people misuse prescription pain pills, 745,000 abuse heroin, and 404,000 abuse both prescription pain pills and heroin.

STATISTICS ON OPIOID-RELATED DEATHS IN THE U.S.

  • Every day, 136 people die from an opioid overdose in the United States, including prescription and illicit opioid drugs.
  • Overdose deaths in the U.S. involving prescription opioids (including methadone and semi-synthetic opioids) numbered around 3,500 in 1999 and increased to over 17,000 in 2017.
  • From 2012 to 2015, there was a 264% increase in deaths related to synthetic opioids.
  • In 2019, more than 71,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. Of these, over 70% (roughly 50,000 deaths) were overdoses involving opioids, including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
  • From 2018 to 2019, the overall opioid-involved death rate increased by over 6%. While prescription opioid-involved deaths and heroin-involved deaths declined by 6-7%, the synthetic opioid-involved death rate increased by more than 15%.
  • Between 1999 and 2019, nearly 500,000 Americans have died from an overdose involving an opioid drug.

STATISTICS ON COST OF OPIOID ABUSE IN THE U.S.

  • Misuse of prescription opioids alone costs the U.S. more than $78 billion a year, including healthcare costs, lost productivity, criminal justice costs, and addiction treatment.

Want to know how this works on a personal level?   Read this well-received novel today.

Jellybeaners Jellybeaners

The Tongues

The Tongues
The Tongues

Hate and fear?  They’re learned. 

The tongues,

The tongues will kill.

Lying lips

Cause blood to spill.

You saw

With your own eyes.

How all those lies

Allow crazies to

Thrive.

All that poison 

Comes

From older, 

Dirtier tongues.

Cause it’s learned.

Hate and fear are learned.

The jaws

The jaws will jack.

Just like addicts

Addicted to crack.

You saw

With your own eyes

Jaws jacking lies.

Will our country survive?

All that poison 

Comes

From older, 

Dirtier tongues.

‘Cause it’s learned.

Hate and fear are learned.

 The tongues

Revel in fear.

Love to spread hate

While choking back

Tears.

The tongues

Kill goodwill.

The tongues 

Exist only to squeal.

All that poison 

Comes

From older, 

Dirtier tongues.

Cause it’s learned.

Hate and fear are learned.

Where Are We Now?

By NYT Staff photographer Erin Schaff
By NYT Staff photographer Erin Schaff

Where are truth and love?

Where are we now?
Where has America gone?
Where are we now?
Is this the swan song?

Where have the morals gone?
Taught from above?
Where are the morals now?
Where are truth and love?

Where are the Christians now?
Since lies are King?
Where are the Christians now?
Does money mean everything?

Where are the brains now?
That death and ignorance reign?
Where are the brains now?
They took the chump train.

They took the chump train.
They took the chump train.
They took the chump train.

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