Saturday, April 26, 2003


Raven has had a short life, but his historical memory is very long. And because of his canny grasp of the Past, he’s nervous about the Future.

“You know,” he turns away from the computer screen and picks up his coffee cup, “I would like to be optimistic. I just don’t know if I can be.”

Well, Rave, I hear you. I believe most of us would like to think that the polarization that is being generated—the critical mass of positive energy that is gathering against the plan of the Bush Gang to grind the world’s population into chorizo and soak it in oil—will eventually prevail.

“That the Real Good will stand up against the Real Evil—and not be suckered by the Doublespeak of cynical bastards?” Raven sips his coffee, puts his cup back down.

Right now Manicheism is on pretty shaky ground, I think. Ever since George W. said we were either with him or against him. But dualistic thinking does allow us to draw the line against the intolerable.

“Careful. Didn’t Bush Padre draw a line in the sand against Saddam Hussein—somewhere back in the Dark Ages?”

In 1990, I think. We’re still in the Dark Ages, Rave. Looking for the Light at the End of the Tunnel. Trying to be hopeful.

“Here’s a hopeful guy. Writing in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Phil Steger—executive director of Friends for a Non-Violent World says:

‘The time is coming when regimes that threaten the peace and security of the world's people will be promptly and peacefully removed from power by the nonviolent, political force of the people. It might have happened in Iraq. It will happen in America.’”

There isn’t much time though. Either 8 and a half years or 9 and a half, depending on whose calendrical correllation from the Mayan to Gregorian calendars you choose to believe. After that, even if the new consciousness does prevail, we won’t have an Iraq. Nor an America.

“If the choice is between being oil-soaked chorizo and having a peaceful process of regime change, I am inclined to be optimistic.” Raven shuts down the computer, goes to the sink and rinses his coffee cup.

You and Winston Churchill, Rave.

“How’s that?”

Churchill said he was an optimist because he didn’t see the point in being a pessimist and continuing to live. In those terms, I guess I am an optimist, too....

Friday, April 25, 2003


Raven has been listening to a cd of intense Venezuelan music by Cristóbal Jiménez. Which means I have been listening to it, too, since Raven can’t use headphones. His eyes are ready to pop out of his head—which bobs in time to the music as he reads the day’s news on the computer screen.

Rave, give us a break here. From the music. Please.

Rave gives me a bald stare.

“I did not bring these raucous tunes back from Caracas, now, did I?”

They were a gift from my friend Félix. But I doubt that even he listens to them 24/7.

Raven shuts off the music.

“Okay. Silence is golden. You want to talk, or what?” He helps himself to my stash of granola bars, tears off a wrapper, begins pecking at one of the peanut butter bars.

I was wondering which country is the target for a regime change this morning, that’s all.

“Well, let’s see. In less than two weeks we’ve had Cuba, Syria, North Korea, and Iran. The Iran change is somehow connected to the presidential elections in Argentina, apparently.”

I don’t think so. I think it’s connected to the bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994. Maybe by Hezbollah. Which in turn is connected to elections and gun-running in Paraguay in the multi-country corner where all the terrorist groups like the CIA and Al Quaeda are supposedly hanging out selling each other weapons and secrets.

“And the knee bone is connected to the thigh bone? Key word apparently is Jewish, so we´re talking Mossad? And Ariel Sharon? Bush says the US is going to occupy Iraq for at least two years. His own private Idaho—er, Palestine.” Rave tosses the granola bar wrapper in the waste basket. “Cynical bastard is even now admitting it was all about oil.”

As if we hadn’t figured that out. Well, in that case for the moment, anyway, we can probably push Cuba and North Korea and even Syria to the back chairs of the musical chairs and move up Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

“Does that mean you’ll be flying off to Saudi Arabia to bring back cds of belly dance music?” Raven has a malicious gleam in his eye.

In your dreams, Rave.

“If it’s all about oil, maybe we’ll be looking at the Tomahawk missiles here in Mexico pretty soon.”

Naw, Fox will continue giving Bush all the oil he wants. Losing money on every barrel. Making up for it in volume.

“Another idiot at the controls. Isn’t that enough reason for a regime change?”

It should be. Do you have somebody in mind? Rave, you wouldn’t be planning to run for president of Mexico, would you?

“I’m strictly a behind-the-scenes guy. But what’s the name of that beetle sidekick of Subcomandante Marcos?”

Durito, I believe.

“¡Eso! I think I’ll send him an e-mail. Before Bush pours Tony Garza all over us again like a bad smell....”

Thursday, April 24, 2003


Raven arches a feather at the long black and white tie-dyed skirt I bought in a craft fair in Caracas.

Is that a salute, Rave?

“Maybe. You’re very retrograde in your style lately, I think.”

It’s because we live at the beach. All the old hippies and burners that straggle through here on their way to Zipolite have left a mark in our consciousness, style section.

“What a bunch of bullshit. Let’s talk about real stuff—like the Middle East.” Rave scrolls down the computer screen. “For example, here we have Shiite pilgrims in Karbala, Iraq, calling for a Jihad against the American occupiers.”

Sounds like fun. Just what the world needs is another war with God on its side. What’s the deal?

“It says here:

‘One million people commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohamed, were not only determined to take part in the rites banned by Saddam Hussein and his Baathist predecessors, but also to lay their claim for a Shia-led government. Yesterday, the final prayers of the festival were different from the days that have gone before, with thousands of young men arriving from the cities of a de facto Shia confederacy, which is already taking shape.'

It sounds like a political convention, not a pilgrimage, Rave.

“Well, whatever it is it clearly very theatrical. Listen to this:

‘The young men left their Kalashnikovs and grenade launchers in their vehicles out of respect, they said, for the holiness of Karbala. But later, covered in blood from flagellation with chains and knife wounds they had ritually and frenziedly inflicted on themselves they roared their desire to avenge Ayatollah al-Sadr, murdered by the regime in 1999, and fight for a free, Islamic Iraq. In sermons, imam after imam called on Iraqis to take the destiny of the country into their own hands, and the Shia to take their "rightful place" in deciding how the country should be governed Some of the crowd carried banners saying "Bush equals Saddam", "Down USA" and "Yes, Yes, Islam". ‘”

A week ago I could have contributed a few choruses of “Ooh Ah, Chávez no se va”, and “Cuba sí, Yanquis no”, Rave.

“Very funny. Here they have quotes from some of the people:

‘One member of the Hawza, the Shia religious body based in Najaf, Abbas Nahidi, said: "The Hawza believe there should be elections so people can decide who should govern us. We want an Islamic state. We do not want to be ruled by any foreign powers including the United States."

Yusef al-Hababi agreed."We are all prepared to take part in the jihad to throw out the Americans. Look at the way they conducted this war."’

Everybody’s a critic. The first step toward democracy, Rave. But seriously, there’s nothing like the Bush foreign policy of bombing the shit out of everybody for putting everybody with a US passport in the crosshairs of one of those Kalashnikovs.

“Then it’s a good thing you are melding into the tie-dyed universe of our own little Beach Blanket Bingo parlor.”

I think I already said everybody’s a critic....

Wednesday, April 23, 2003


This morning Júpiter the Dog finished most of the leftover grilled chicken from my ill-advised late night supper, and Raven cleaned up the rice.

“Too much fake chicken stock in the rice”, Raven spat out one of the last grains. “I hope I don’t get a migraine from the MSG.”

That’s why I left the rice. Sorry. I felt too guilty to throw it out.

“If I die, just bury me in the patio under the lime tree. What’s in the news?”

The usual misery. The usual suspects. Now that the tachycardia of the invasion on Iraq is slowing down, the Dogs of War are fighting among themselves in Washington. Listen while I translate from LA JORNADA:

‘Tuesday a close adviser of Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, lauched a new attack on the State Department, characterizing it as a broken instrument that supports dictators, fails to advance US interests in the world and which should be disbanded. Newt Gingrich, ex-leader of the House of Representatives, asked for a complete restucturing of the State Department, a process which he said must include declarations to Congress, an external task force to make recommendations for changes, and what would be essentially a purge of the career diplomatic corps. Gingrich advized that he was not asking for the removal of Secretary of State Colin Powell, although it would be almost impossible to imagine that the functionary would remain in his job if these changes were effected.’

“Wasn’t Newt the sour graper who was pissed off because Clinton was getting blow jobs in the oval office?” Raven looks doubtful.

While Newt was lucky to get a haircut? Probably. This kind of internecine warfare among bureaucrats is not new. But what’s happening now shows that the apparent “success” of the Hawks’ Iraq invasion has made them a whole lot bolder. From their perspective, the US should not take other nations into account, but should show the world that it will defend its interests regardless of their opinions or interests. Gingrich goes on to say that the State Department had failed in the battle to persuade international public opinion to suuport the war against Saddam Hussein, and undermined the military campaign by not playing hardball with Turkey to launch attacks from its territory. Then he complains about Powell’s decision to meet with Syria.

“I wonder how Powell is adjusting to being The Invisible Man when he thought that Black Was Beautiful.” Rave takes a big swig of coffee. “Sounds like it’s a laugh a minute in Washington.”

Are you suggesting that we should be there, Rave—instead of here in our tropical hideout at the end of the earth?

Raven chokes on the coffee.

“Not a chance. Júpiter the Dog and I can scrap over the spoils just fine right here. Next time he can have the rice....”

Tuesday, April 22, 2003


Raven is happy that I am back in Puerto Angel. He has been doing aerobatics in the trees, singing outside the window while I was trying to take a nap—and yesterday evening he left me one of his feathers in the bathroom. (I am not sure what I was supposed to do with it, and was afraid to ask....)

This morning, however, he is looking serious. If a bird can hunch in front of a computer screen, that is what he is doing.

Rave, what’s the problem?

“Oh, nothing but the continued unravelling of rationality here on the planet. Great news for Earth Day is the prospect of nuclear conflagration in North Korea. Here, from the Common Dreams site:

‘A secret Donald Rumsfeld memorandum calling for regime change in North Korea was leaked yesterday, opening a fresh foreign policy split in the Bush administration. The classified discussion paper, circulated by the defense secretary, appears to cut directly across State Department plans to disarm Kim Jong-il, the North's dictator, through threats leavened by promises that his regime is not a target for overthrow.’”

More Doublespeak. If I remember my history correctly, first Hitler invaded Poland a la blitzkrieg, 1939’s version of Shock and Awe. And then wasn’t there a non-agression pact signed by Hitler and Stalin—designed to buy time before Hitler invaded the Soviet Union?

“Sounds singularly familiar. Here it says:

‘The memorandum was leaked on the same day that a senior State Department negotiator flew to Beijing for three-way talks with China and North Korea. Officials working for Mr Rumsfeld are implacably opposed to the talks, pointing to North Korea's long history of extorting aid and concessions in return for promises - never kept - to behave in a more reasonable way. Instead, they seek to use the salutary effect of the rapid victory in Iraq to push North Korea to scrap its nuclear weapons program immediately.’”

It also sounds like the first phase in going after China, Rave.

“Could be. Listen to this:

‘An unnamed senior administration official told the New York Times: "The last thing the Chinese want is a collapse of North Korea that will create a flood of refugees into China and put Western allies on the Chinese border." Colin Powell, the secretary of state, is said to have secured the president's approval for a carrot and stick approach in a meeting last week. Mr Powell called for threats to withhold aid and investment from North Korea, while assuring the regime that it faces no threat from the United States. Mr Rumsfeld, who was "distracted" by the war against Saddam Hussein, did not attend the meeting and may now be trying to regain some traction in the Korea debate, officials speculated.’

Distracted?! That’s what they say about us supposed bird-brains. I am not accepting Rumsfeld in any of his nefarious aspects. Distracted, indeed.”

Rave, even more disturbing to me than his being distracted is his arrogance. Last week it was Syria he was threatening to invade. This week it’s North Korea. Next week, who knows who the target will be. If this were a movie we were watching, we would vote with our feet because it wouldn’t be believable.

Raven, appearing to be distracted by something outside the window, prepares for take-off. He votes with his wings, leaving another feather on the keyboard of the computer.

Monday, April 21, 2003


Raven is rolling
a snail shell along the wall
in the patio:
Sisyphus horizontal?
No, he is meditating

on the physics of
forward movement, asking for
guidance to balance
this dark, retrograde moment
that we are tunneling through.

A big leaf flutters
down in front of the snail shell,
and slows Raven’s pace:
nature puts unexpected
obstacles to make us think?

Raven is not awed
by randomness in nature,
as his own nature
is alternating current:
turning despair into hope,

conflict into peace,
and stupidity into
a new consciousness.
He shoves the leaf from his path,
pushes the circle forward—

no longer a shell,
but a geometric force.
In the mobius
strip of his mind, all of the
dimensions is only one.

Note: Sisyphus, a Corinthian king, was, like Raven, a famous trickster. In Greek mythology one of his capers was catching and tying up Thanatos (Death). In the Underworld he was condemned to roll a large stone up a hill—from which it always rolled down again....