El meu insurrecció

Watching The World Spin ’round Again

I am watching the world spin ’round again

back to some thirty odd years in nineteen seventy three

and I am thinking about comedians like Lenny Bruce

and Mort Sahl who for some reason isn’t funny

and is still alive

and now Cheech and Chong

and still George Carlin

and how they make fun of us

and how we laugh at us

and how some thirty years from now

our children will laugh at us

and at themselves

and we won’t have grown any

and they won’t grow any

and Mort Sahl who isn’t funny

will still be around

reading about us in the Times

that paper of unfunny jokes


Mort Sahl: JFK, Jim Garrison, and Hollywood Blacklisting with Elliot Mintz (1968) |

Morton Lyon Sahl is an American comedian, actor, and social satirist, considered the first modern stand-up comedian since Will Rogers. Sahl pioneered a style of social satire which pokes fun at political and current event topics using improvised monologues and only a newspaper as a prop. 

Born: May 11, 1927 (age 93 years), Montreal, Canada

This Traveller

from the book “Tricycle Otis (Tri-cycle Lotus)”

this traveller thinks he can pull the wool over me eyes, does he?

little does this wretched tramp know that where i come from

we learn to do for ourselves


When The Jesus Band

from the book “Tricycle Otis (Tri-cycle Lotus)

when the jesus band came marching down the street

me friend christ said

“let’s go into woolworth

and buy a soda at the fountain”

Introduction To Tricycle Otis

I recently found a collection of poems written in the 60’s and 70’s that were presumed lost in a fire many years ago. The collection consisted of 4 books. As I venture into boxes of the past, hope exists that the remaining 3 books are found as well. This book was titled “Tricycle Otis (Tri-cycle Lotus)”.

Introduction to Tricycle Otis

a time when our tricycles were turned over

our tricycles became ice cream machines

we were the runners of illegal ripple fudge

and cops of the driveway

plastic army men grew in our backyards

and lived in huts made from baseball cards

—–dedicated to Raymond P. Oban III

some called him crazy

i think so

A Small Circle Of Friends

A Small Circle Of Friends

m dennis paul

It’s December 21, 2019. Winter’s Solstice. I have, a few minutes ago, ended a phone call I have dreaded for some time. I thought a lifetime of endings might have ended differently.

Deep connections, formed early in youth, grew ever deeper as years moved on from teens to young adults… from young adults to midlife and from this succession to denouement. How we all came to meet is a collection of tales both humourous and sad. I’ve threatened that I would reveal them all with each its own puzzled place in a peculiar world. I’ve sworn to ignore myself and abide by the expressed desires to leave such histories to memory and let them go wherever memories go post usefulness. In all our ways, we found each other and the clarity of purpose that arose from this connection.

Grueling days and nights, and any moments in between, passed by until we had defined the rules that would hopefully keep us together…. safe and productive. To be sure, there would be many others who would meet us in various ways and refuse or accept what we were determined to provide. We had joined together at a time of great need… much like this time.

In the beginning, and to this day, nothing was simple or easy. While some who shared certain ideologies in common would venture into the world to effect change while still living a life of accumulation and personal benefit, we had vowed to shun assimilation… especially with corporations wholly aligned with war and injustice. We’ve spent our lives working nondescript jobs, non-profit jobs, service jobs. We managed our lives in ways that allowed us to maintain certain trappings of comfort and enjoy cultural and educational pursuits as well relationships, children and a healthy dose of fun and pleasure. None of us were monks, by any means. Though at times we might be public, none of us sought fame, notoriety, spotlights. Most of us could easily have taken those paths… or others more ”glamourous”. We did what we had to so we might do what we had chosen.

In the time of teens we were physically close. Like many friends, as we aged our locations changed and soon we were close enough to live distant lives without feeling separation. We started out as 8… each of us wild and frequently crazy. Each with our own pet projects and all with our collective imperative. As we physically grew and changed, so too did our mission. With changing times, variations of tactics needed to be countered, changing life situations, political, local and global situations shifting and shaping, we helped each other through. The lessons learned were invaluable.

Without exception, before our 18th birthdays, we had tasted and felt the fire of teargas, nursed welts and gashes from assaults and saw the insides of many jails. Charges ran from the catch-all ”disorderly” to ”rioting and property destruction” and on up to ”associating with avowed enemies of the United States Government”, ”threatening a president’s life”, ”aiding and abetting AWOL’s and conscientious objectors” and ”destruction of government property”. This is a short list. A bit later, Feds attempted to entrap one of us in a bombing, bank robbery, arson and murder of a state trooper. All of these charges … as funny as some were and as nonexistent as others… were dismissed. They never figured fully what was our collective mission. What they might have figured out, they couldn’t prove.

Into and beyond midlife, the rebel yell turned to mentoring, service projects, coordinating and management. In the past 12 or so years, our numbers dwindled. Just a few years ago, while working on and raising funds for the expansion of a Domestic Violence and Abuse shelter, J-Mac passed away. That left only two of us out of the original eight. The shelter was J-Mac’s project which he, sadly, never saw completed. A few weeks ago, the Domestic Violence org was able to sign a MOU for purchase of the buildings we had rehabbed.

In our last conversation I was chatting with my co-survivor, mostly about the recent surgeries I had, the experimental meds I would soon be taking, and the progression of dystrophy since last we spoke. We also shared our joy over the great turn of events for the shelter and remembered some pretty good J-Mac tales and tales of all the others who were now only memories. I told him about my fear that I would be the last out the door and we talked about how we should close out this chapter. He said it no longer made sense for us to hang onto our go bags and travel pay as we both had nowhere left to go and it made sense for us to donate… and so we did. He said that no matter who exited before the other, the survivor would eventually follow. We marveled some of how far our work had traveled and the peoples it effected. North, South and Central America, Canada, Africa, the Middle East and more… and all without being known, or only marginally so… perhaps more for some but we made it through this life with only minor scratches.

And then the phone call…. Sia has passed away in his sleep. Winter’s Solstice… the darkest day. Just like that all those incredible memories were entrusted to me. No longer a small circle of friends.

In memory of Sia, J-Mac, Jake. Ken, Alan, Anna and Mama Max. It was a life of pain and sadness, joy and laughter, loving and learning from each other and making it happen while raising our middle fingers to the profiteers, politicians, feds and pigs, and all the scum that needlessly make life hard.

Ahed Tamimi… A Child Who Is Not

Ahed Tamimi… A Child Who Is Not

I understand the sense with which people opt to protest the arrest of Ahed Tamimi with claims she is just a child, however, Ahed is a warrior. Her childhood was stolen, along with that of her siblings, by thief in the night Israel. She was raised a warrior. Had to be.. like all the other youth of Palestine. The youth of Palestine are armed with words, marches, banners and flags… and, yes, stones, bottles, slingshots and fire. Fighting against an occupying, colonizing, heavily armed military is the life to which they are born. Living precariously on the soil of generations, not knowing on which day or what moment the soil will be stolen or family will be stolen, homes destroyed, brothers or sisters shot, maimed, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, cousins and friends beaten, arrested, imprisoned… or worse.

Ahed’s cousin, Mo, lies in a coma resulting from a bullet to the head. A signature of the sociopathic troops who terrorize children daily. Sister, Nour and Mother, Nariman are now, also, in jail. Their battered home is surrounded by illegal settlements and military outposts, checkpoints and inbred settlers.

I am hoping Ahed and all the youth of Palestine can be respected as the resistance force they inevitably must be. They know, all too well, the consequences of their actions and the elusive wisp of life that is theirs, if only in the moment. To see them as children is to diminish the role they play in a life of subsistence and survival and is an unwitting suspension of reality which blinds us… separates us from truth while we express acknowledgment of their plight.

Solidarity is essential. Respect is imperative. Ahed and family, friends and fellow warriors alike… To Resist Is To Live And To Die. It Is The Breath In At The Moment Of Birth… And It Is The Exhale At The End. Sadly, the struggle represented in the assaults upon the family, Tamimi, is experienced every moment of every day in Palestine. It must end someday… but that day often seems to run away as swiftly as it approaches.

Our hearts are with the Tamimi’s and all the families of Palestine. Each stone they throw is a strike for freedom… not the expression of lost children disposed to youthful hooliganism. May there forever be stones.

Something for the Homeless (A memory)

When I was a kid, I managed a pizza/sub shop. There was a young boy, 9 yo, who showed up each evening around 8pm to sweep the floors in exchange for a pizza for his family (mom, dad & sis). Dad was disabled and could not work. Mom did laundry by hand, baby sat, sewed and any other “job” she could find.. often working 14-16 hrs a day… to cover rent on a 3 room shed (that my godfather rented to them for $9 p/wk + utilities) and the medications her husband needed.

This boy would not take charity. There were 2-3 other stores on the main street who gave him a dollar each night for sweeping and taking out the trash. He went home with a few dollars in his pocket and “dinner” each evening. At that time, it cost roughly 68 cents to make a cheese pizza that sold for $3.50. He was reluctant to take a dollar along with the pizza. When business was good, I slipped a few extra dollars into the pizza box.

My heart was heavy the day I left that job. New owners refused to continue the “tradition”. I can still see that little boy’s face when I told him there would be no more pizzas or dollars. I gave him an envelope with $100 to take home to his folks. It was sealed so he could not see what was inside. He was instructed to just hand it to his mother. There were two notes inside. One explaining what had happened and the other a letter of introduction that the boy was to take to a small breakfast & lunch shop a few blocks away owned by an old family friend. I had called Jimmy, the owner, in advance and he had promised to give the boy some work.

While I was working at that shop, I also used to make subs from the day old bread and meats/cheeses that had only a day or two before being dated. A few of the homeless who lived in cardboard boxes behind an old train station would wait at the shops delivery door for these subs. One, who I called “Pops” (his choice) used to take that sub to a nearby park and share it with the birds and a scruffy feral cat who lived in a hollow behind a music store abutting that park. I offered to give him an extra sub but he said one was enough. He could not eat very much, being sick. The cat and birds were happy for what he shared and that made him happy.

One horribly cold and blustery winter night, as I shoveled snow from the front of the shop, “Pops” appeared, looking very weak and pale. Though he protested, I stuck $50 into his pocket and prodded him to get a room at a dive hotel just up the street. He started to walk away and got as far as across the street where he fell into the snow bank and died. I’ve never forgotten that night.

The police used to roust the homeless behind the old train station, put all their shelters and belongings into a single dumpster and set them afire. This happened maybe every two months or so as a few of my friends and I would deposit bedding, blankets, boxes and whatever else we could gather behind that station right after the assaults. That station provided them a decent barrier against the weather. Eventually, the cops began to patrol nightly and forced these people to move on and out into the woods.

We weren’t rich, by any means, but we did what we could at the time. We were just kids from abusive homes living on our own. We did something. Never enough… but something.

more memories…

When I was living on the streets as a teen, Jimmy L, who owned a little diner, would run out if he saw me and/or my friend Susanne whose mother was a prostitute and drag us into the diner to feed us. A few years later, Jimmy took over helping a young boy I had when a pizza shop I managed was bought out and the new owner would not let me keep the arrangement I had with the boy. A few years later, Susanne and I were walking by the diner after hours and saw Jimmy sitting inside holding a gun to his head. We sat with him til 5 in the morning until he sobered and promised to get through another day. He maintained 2 more years before taking his life. He loved life.. until he no longer could. Pain and love. It follows me. I think of Jimmy often. Sadly, I haven’t seen Susanne in 30 years.

and more…

At least once a week, as kids, one or two of us would hit Kemps or Howdy BeefBurgers at closing and the workers would bag up all the leftovers that otherwise would be tossed. They knew we were going to feed a group and sometimes threw in shakes. On special nights, we would dumpster dive at Soucy’s or IGA or other supermarts. I remember one store that knew what we were doing and would throw grease or worse on the tossed produce we gathered.

such power (poem)

Oh to have such power that I might wave an arm and millions of human lives will fall, devalued, as so many grains of sand. In such morality I illusion immortality and rest with dreams.
—M. Dennis Paul

Can A Congress Of Nations Grow A Spine In Time To Save The World

Can A Congress Of Nations Grow A Spine In Time To Save The World

“The US no longer sees the world as a global community, but as a fighting arena where everyone has to seek their own advantage,” Mr Gabriel told the Berlin Foreign Policy Forum, according to German newspaper Deutsche Welle.

Germany can no longer simply react to US policy but must establish its own position… even after Trump leaves the White House, relations with the US will never be the same.”

Ignorance… The State of Ignoring

Prior to 1939, world leaders were witness to a gradual buildup of militarization within a nation previously brought to surrender in a world war prefaced by a gradual buildup also witnessed by world leaders. The outcome of such buildup was, of course, another world war and another surrender. A portrait of history ignored until the last moment… too late to prevent the massive destruction of cities and states and the deaths, dismemberment and deprivation of millions of innocents.

Since that time, a Congress of Nations, attempted following the first world war, was reconfigured into the birth of the United Nations (Oct. 24, 1945). The current Congress of Nations, the UN, allowed to exist with a small cabal of nations holding sway above the vast majority of nations, presents itself as woefully weak, if not more so, than its predecessor, the League of Nations.

Decade after decade, the UN has witnessed successive buildups to lesser wars and “actions” across the globe and, in large part, allowing the small cabal to define the causes, characters and, in final address, the outcomes they expect.

Decade after decade, the UN shied away from telling the world about the cabal’s real place in these buildups, wars and “actions”. The UN, at the direction of the cabal, lead the world to believe in repetitive false narratives while the cabal grabbed up one nation after another as colonies, economic and otherwise, to be used and abused at will. In each instance, it was not the colonizers who suffered; for they had learned how to profit by both “wins” and “losses”. It was, again and again, the innocents who suffered immeasurable losses without any benefit.

Since its inception, the UN has been the empty voice of global pretense toward peace. Leaders gather with each new crisis and point fingers, wag fingers, place fingers in ears and sit on their thumbs. They vote on hundreds of resolutions, more often than not blocked by the cabal. Those that manage to pass are posted, filed and ignored. Unable to productively negotiate untethered by the ever looming denial of the cabal, unable to effectively block actions long deemed illegal by a majority of nations… more often than not, actions of the cabal, whether cloaked in subterfuge or blatant in disregard for human culture, human rights, human dignity and common sense, the UN adjourns each meeting with a hope, a sigh and a whimper.

Ever afraid to open the shades and shed light on the backers, suppliers and cheerleaders of turmoil, the UN presents itself as a moral arbiter from on high while it cowers in the dust and ruin of its charter.

Knowing that the world is guided by economies and saddled with greed and taking by the most powerful, the UN, and the nations who represent themselves in its corridors and chambers pay lip service to justice and the rights of the common… never using the power of the common and the power of nations in unison to support and act in concert with the common to rein in the abuse of power by the self-indulgent global debt producing and gluttonous, thieving members.

It is, and has always been, the common which speaks truth to power. As every despot has arisen on this planet… and there have been too many in its history with man… it has been the innocent who have been the bellwether of suffering to come while the leaders of nations either remand themselves to closets or prance about as sycophants waiting for the crumbs to be tossed. It is the common man who resisted… even to his own peril. Pronouns regretted, it is largely women who toss the first projectile at the front of dissent’s line.

Life Is Just A Game

Risk, a board game, was invented by French film director Albert Lamorisse and originally released in 1957 as La Conquête du Monde (The Conquest of the World) in France. It was later bought by Parker Brothers and released in 1959 with some modifications to the rules as Risk: The Continental Game, then as Risk: The Game of Global Domination. With a suggested age range from 10 years old to adult, and 60 years of popularity, Risk is highly symbolic of reality. It is hard to ignore build ups to war on the game board. Why then is it so hard for real nations to recognize real build ups and act to end them rather than bleat and bray? The eventual domination of the world by one player is modeled by the history of the world.

We may change car styles, dress styles, music and art but we seem wholly incapable of changing the desire and designs for domination.


One of the, if not the premier, deceptions conceived by the gluttons of earth is the division of the common through fear of each other division. Through fear and separating of one mass from another based on religion, ethnicity, race or politic, a false sense of right arises in a single word… patriotism. Patriotism can best be defined as adherence to the words, deeds and goals of the gluttons at the expense of all else.. even self. In our age, there are no greater examples of moronic self sacrifice under the guise of patriotism than in the US and Israel. There are, of course, others but these two epitomize the same allegiance and demand for sacrifice that signaled the buildup for war evident prior to the world wars and ignored by the nations of the world until it was too late.

Despots Succeeded By Despots

Inevitable, the emergence of despots such as the successions of Prime Ministers of Israel and Presidents of the US would lead to the level of gluttony embodied in Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump. Entitlement, unchecked, only expands, like a sponge, as more and more of the perceived wealth of the world is absorbed.

Less Than Friends

For the long term sycophants of the US, bowing and curtseying to its pet boa constrictor, Israel, has been a ritual of evangelical zeal. For the supposed allegiance of Arab nations to assuage their guilt for blind eyes to the oppression of an indigenous Arab peoples by Israel, the closet dwellers make Palestine a pet which they point to, make brief fawning gestures toward… and otherwise ignore.

Media is no different. When the heat is on, they are present to report with confused logic, evangelical bias and a persistent urge to blame the victims for the assaults upon them. When the heat seems to die down, the media moves on. The real conditions once again ignored.

Ignorance Leads To War Leads To Ignorance Leads to…

The long stretch of history since the first world war is a series of mistakes lazily repeated. The world is now at the hardened edge of yet another grave mistake. To a degree different than previous wars, there is no mistaking that both the US and Israel are the hand in hand antagonists threatening a wobbly mass of gelatin formed from the boiled bones of the last great conflagration.

The leading global despot nations have created sufficient chaos, fear and economic instability to embolden cataract affected patriots in search of fire and fury against an enemy… to be determined… or two. The common enemy of the US and Israel are, with no surprise, the nations that geographically stand in the way of the gluttons’ march toward long planned theft of all the sands… and everything beneath them… of the Middle East, Gulf and Africa.

The leading US despot, Donald J Trump, who postures like his hero, Benito Mussolini, with arms crossed, chest puffed and chin prominently pointed upward, believes that by taking more future away from the Palestinians he can further threaten them to accept “peace” based on the Israeli construct of peace by surrender, peace by subjugation, peace by obeisance, peace by servitude and peace within defined reservations… something learned by America’s construct of peace with the Indians. Glutton Netanyahu, who flagrantly chips away at Palestine, believes that any motion not against Israel is a sign by the US & world to chip away even more. Of course, with Gluttonyahu, any motion by anyone against Israel is taken as a sign to chip away faster.

The gluttonous sheiks of Saudi Arabia have joined the cabal and now do the bidding of the US and Israel in building up war chests. The UK is rapidly burying itself in irrelevance but is still in the game.

Under past presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, the world saw, but ignored, the buildup and expansion of war until, under Obama, 7 war fronts were prominent and nearly another dozen were fomenting. In retrospect, while there was some revulsion expressed by entrance to both Afghanistan and Iraq, it was marginal and remains as such. Now, under Donito Trumpolini, more fronts are being added and, in bellicose fashion, he prods his minions in office and global sycophants to accept the total destruction of North Korea (and likely South Korea). Like Mussolini, he alienates traditional allies and marginal supporters without concern. He has the codes to the nuclear football and itchy fingers.

To all of this, the Congress of Nations spouts its too often repeated watered down condemnations, holds its “emergency” chamber pot meetings and returns to thumb-sitting.

Will The Congress Of Nations Grow A Spine?

It must be reiterated that the world has reached the hardened edge. The buildup to global war is functionally complete. The militaria has been set aside and the militaries are in formation. Navies are policing the oceans and the air roars with jets, bombers and drones. The missiles are primed, and the forward troops are deployed and taking casualties, and the Generals are lighting their serious cigars and pipes.

It is time for the Congress of Nations to act… not the bluster they have convinced themselves to be action… not the wagging fingers and empty resolutions. It is time for the UN to take first a symbolic posture of visually turning its back upon the despots and despot nations. It is time to empty the chambers when representatives of Israel and the US raise their voices. Time to refuse acknowledgment of their votes, Time to fully ostracize them for the detriment they have posed to the progress of the world.

The next step is to sanction. Turn the tables and create chaos to their economies. Time to use the power known best by the common… Boycott, Divestment and Sanction. It is time to cease collusion through arms sales and purchases, time to shop elsewhere for ships, commercial jets, engines, etcetera. Concrete actions as opposed to endless hot air. Isolate the cancer to cease its spread. The commons will act in support and there will be nowhere to turn and no one for them to turn.

The Congress of Nations must harness the real power of nations and the power of people. Reliance on empty words and the wind created by wagging fingers insures only that in a year, in a month, in a week or a day… at any moment it will surely be too late.

The reality? Expect war.

Irma by Anthony Tarrant

{Originally published Sept. 21, 2017 in Dissident Voice}


I’m twelve feet away from the northern eyewall of Hurricane Irma.  Seated behind floor to ceiling panes of glass that can’t be thick enough. “Are they thick enough?” I wonder while staring at the murderous velocity of rain and wind that just a few steps away would lift me whole and launch me into the lake, a tree or another house. With death defying, tornadic ferocity the wind drives rain sideways in every direction at once.  I hear tree trunks and limbs snapping like firecrackers off in the distance.

There’s still running water, but the electricity went off hours ago. There’s no internet. Comcast has opened up thousands of free WiFi hotspots for anyone whose service is down.  You can log on for two hours at a time. Two hours at a time in the teeth of an historic maelstrom.  I enter a username and password and hit a fucking pay wall. Comcastic!

The changes in air pressure are making my ears pop as the wind lives up to its cliché;  it really does sound like a freight train.  130, 140 miles per hour but still not the Cat-5 death dealer that scoured 100% of Barbuda’s housing stock down to its concrete foundations.  Not the 185 miles per hour that would take paint off a car, put the car in a hole and blow the hole away.  This isn’t that, but it’s impossible to say exactly how fortunate I am beyond the fact I’m still sitting here watching the world get ripped apart.

I’m glad I boarded up my house and came to my in-law’s ground floor condo 20 minutes northeast.  In a storm 600 miles wide that’s a difference without a distinction but this condo is better built and stronger than my tract home constructed in 1976 by contractors on acid.  I’ve moved to the kitchen, away from the glass, where I’ve paired off a peanut butter and honey sandwich against a muscular Cabernet/Zin/Sarah blend.  I’m out of milk.

Suddenly the wind dies down and the rain stops. We’re in the eye. I step outside.  I’m told there’s blue sky in the center of a hurricane, but not in this one. Irma’s core is deck plate gray and the driveway is a carpet of leaves, branches and uprooted trunks making the way impassable.  What’s the difference?  I’m not going anywhere anyway. The southern half of the eyewall is coming.  I snap some pictures and go back inside.  The wind picks up fast and the rain with it.  My cats have slept through the whole thing.  One in the master bedroom and two others, a mother and her adult spawn spooned into an indistinguishable pile of warm fur on my bed in the guest room.  I wish I could be that cool and follow their lead. The howling begins and once again I hear tree trunks snapping.

If my in-law’s home suffered cosmetic damage, my own home was a different matter.  Driving south along main arteries through intersections of cockeyed traffic lights, blacked out and dangling, I finally made it to the badly flooded stretch of road that is the only way in or out of my neighborhood.  I drove through sheet flow up to my doors and managed to get through to my street and driveway.  The front yard was strewn with pieces of other people’s houses, tree limbs and branches: the back yard the same, only under water.  Mature shade trees split down the middle and a one story aluminum pool cage now a twisted skeleton of support and cross beams, half thrown up on my roof while the rest lies in and around my pool at strange angles as if gravity hadn’t quite finished its conversation.

The wooden front door gave way under protest, swollen as it was against the jam.  I was greeted with the thick, warmishly fetid organic musk of a diaper pail.  Irma had blown water into my house through every conceivable fissure and crevice a house built in 1976 invariably has.  The baseboards and sheet rock had wicked up the puddled sweat like a sponge, expanding and separating from each other. Everything twelve inches off the deck will have to be cut out and replaced; every square inch of tile, every grout line, will have to be painstakingly scrubbed with soap and bleach. Somehow my paperback copy of Antonia Juhasz’ great work, The Tyranny of Oil sits bloated and destroyed on the bedroom floor.  How ironic.

The $120 in cash and credit cards in my pocket are worthless.  There is nowhere to spend money.  No supermarkets selling food, no gas stations selling gas, no hardware stores selling tools or propane. People everywhere are living off stockpiled meat, water, beer and soda stored in ice chests and everyone seems to have their grills fired up. Checking to see how others close by are doing, one kindly offers 5 gallons of gas when I tell him I’m down to a quarter tank.  Another offers a grilled sausage on a hot dog roll.  I’m a vegetarian, but not today.  Yet another provides a half loaf of sliced bread and cold Gator-Aide.  Everyone has been hit hard, so these spontaneous acts of proximal kindness are meaningful, unexpected and palpable.  In the coming days, waiting for power to be restored, much generosity and cooperation was on offer in this working class neighborhood. Far more than any expressed or received from family or friends of long standing with the means to do more, something – or anything.  And I know why this is so.

We live in a realm of hungry ghosts, a trance state mistaken for normative, acceptable – even civil – society.  But it’s not a society, in the strictest sense, as there is so little that is social about it.  It’s an economic construct marked by disregard, disdain, incivility utterly drained of unity, community or any sense of individual obligation to the whole or the other.  No matter how much one has, insatiable hunger for more persists.  A mind where spaciousness is emptiness; an inversion of abundance into a perception of scarcity and lack.  A Dickensian box where those working for scraps live in an ahistorical matrix deprived of the vocabulary to even describe their reality while those that have real wealth live in a richly textured movie starring themselves in a mythological place where they are generous, compassionate, deserving, loving and kind. It is an abattoir.  An extremely violent gun culture of dog loving infantile grandiosity.

The ballet of my neighbor Juan and his two chainsaws makes me sorry I didn’t record it.  He owns a landscaping business, and he and his crews had been working their asses off since dawn clearing downed trees in a gated community near my open neighborhood.  It was getting on sunset when he came over offering to chop up the last eight feet of a fifty foot shade tree blasted from its moorings in my back yard.  It was an unbelievably kind gesture after the kind of day I’m sure he had.  I watched him cut the trunk and lower limbs into a pile of manageable chunks inside of about 20 minutes. It would have taken me at least an hour if I knew how to do it without killing myself.  All he wanted was a cold beer.  The next day I brought him a case.

It made me think about the current administration’s repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the millions of Latinos deported by President Obama.  I grew saddened and furious.  In the wake of Hurricane Irma in SW Florida, the road back from neighborhoods turned medieval under tons of fallen trees is being led by thousands of undocumented Mexicans, Hondurans and Guatemalans with chainsaws.  The next time I hear anyone slandering Latinos in any way, especially with the canard that they’re “taking our jobs”, I will step up to them and publicly shame them.  I will describe them and, if practical, strangle them while I whisper in their fucking ear.

As of this writing I’ve had my power back for 6 days.  Six days of hot showers, fresh laundry and air conditioning.  There are still thousands without power in homes inundated with water that has nowhere to go in the super-saturated soil of SW Florida. Overpriced slumlord shit boxes and the homes of retirees on or near the Imperial River less than a mile from my house now experience tidal flow in their kitchens. I turned back from paying my water bill in person when confronted with a quarter mile sheet flow of indeterminate depth blocking the road between me and their office.  This is a major disaster I’m in the middle of and yet I’m one of the fortunate ones.  Had Irma tracked a bit further west sucking up water and energy instead of making landfall in Collier County when and where it did, this disaster could easily have been a much worse and wider catastrophe.  The 10 to 15 feet of predicted storm surge did not happen in the Gulf Coast city of Naples, although they received more than their fair share of flooding and wind borne destruction.  That city will virtually bounce back. Naples on the Gulf contains more private wealth than Beverly Hills and Jackson Hole combined.  They have little need for government assistance there.  They never did.  For them government is an impediment.

East Naples, where the sprawling 55 years old and up trailer park communities are located, jammed with elderly folk on low fixed income living side by side with undocumented aliens is another story.  The undocumented get to live in what’s left of their condemned trailers with the stench of standing water and sewage in the air – ineligible for federal assistance. Immokalee, FL, still further east where Oaxaca meets Port-au-Prince, covered brilliantly in the tome Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt co-authored by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco, is still another poor, traumatized sacrifice zone.  And few are discussing, far less writing, much about Everglades City, an hour’s drive south of Naples where it took FEMA five days to get on the ground there.  Storm surge and wind have wiped that city off the map; its residents wallow in muck and filth with nowhere to live and nowhere to go.

Irma struck Collier and Lee Counties on Sunday, September 10th. According to an article in the Naples Daily News of September 19th about the situation in Everglades City:

The scores of volunteers who have set up in the city handing out food, water and clothes along with Federal, state and local medical providers was a far cry from the almost-deserted scene in the city for the first week following the storm.

Residents had been left mostly on their own, spending hours each day working in the mud and sludge, often barefoot or in flip-flops, trying to salvage what was left of their homes.

In Everglades City and surrounding communities struck with 10 feet of storm surge, a man scraped his leg picking up a piece of aluminum debris on Monday, the day after Irma passed.  His wife put a Band-Aid on it and by Friday a raging bacterial infection had attacked his vital organs, threatening renal failure and the doctors amputated his leg. The mayor’s mother is in the hospital fighting an infection.  Full time medical assistance from the County only began on Sunday, seven full days after Irma.  According to the same article, health officials administered only 80 tetanus shots to residents before running out of supplies.

Having learned nothing from Katrina, the stench of neo-liberalism’s 40 year death march across America and the world has seeped like carbon monoxide into every gear of the machine we live in.  Capital and its wholly-owned subsidiary, government, can no longer respond effectively to crisis.  This is the fossilization and atrophy of end-stage capitalism, a violent socio-economic bifurcation describing a zombie state eating its own with nothing on the horizon to replace it. “American politics”, as Dr. Manuel Garcia, Jr. aptly puts it, “is how money talks to itself”.

The indiscriminate savagery of Irma is about far more than this unemployed writer’s freezer full of rotted food, shredded roof line and collapsed pool cage.  The path of Irma draws upward into bas-relief the majority of American society’s precarious decline into an irreconcilable cultural and economic abysm.  Radical social change is coming, but not until many hundreds of thousands, likely millions, of American lives are lost.  Not on the romantic front lines of populist revolt at the barricades, but as the unheralded, withering, long term consequence of declining standards of living.

Profound social ferment and revolutionary social restructuring is inevitable, but it will not simply emerge as the result of what it must and has always been – an impulse from the street.  It will also be coincident with a top line driven reconfiguration of titanic pools of capital beginning, perhaps, with the structures of power that have more money than anyone outside of international drug cartels, the fossil fuel juggernaut or the military industrial complex – the insurance industry.  Say what you may about them, but insurance is perhaps the greatest civilizing force in mankind’s entire meteoric footnote.  Without insurance to mitigate against risk, your brand new crane manufactured in South Korea designed to lift cargo out of the holds of container ships in the Port of Los Angeles never gets shipped trans-Pacific to the buyer.  A bank holding a mortgage note on a single family home in SW Florida will insist the owner carry Home Owner’s Insurance and Flood Insurance to mitigate the risk of an unlikely, but catastrophic event.  Like, say, a hurricane.

The question is this:  As anthropogenic climate change throws actuarial calculations out the window and the profitable business of hedging anomalous risk becomes an open ended economic implosion of the rare turned commonplace, how many $150 billion dollar hits do you suppose global insurance consortia and their reinsurers remain willing and able to take?  My guess is not many.  Insurance companies have been generating very public warnings of climate change since at least the mid 1990’s.  When elephants do battle, only the grass suffers, but it will be interesting to see how the insurance industry responds to paying the crippling freight for the fossil fuel industry and how that might contribute toward progressive realignments.

As weak carriers fold, risk portfolios redistribute into stronger hands. Policy deductibles rise insurmountably and covered percentages over and above that drop leaving only the rich able to self-insure and the masses of life long premium payers left with payouts insufficient to make them whole.  Does an utterly sclerotic government lost in a miasma of climate change denial step in to assume a role the private sector no longer deems profitable?  That seems unlikely as well.

At the civilizational fork where far too many obscenely stupid, venal and greedy annihilists are in charge, what will it take to rip the zombie’s head off the deep state?  Hurricanes Andrew, Charlie, Wilma, Katrina, Harvey, Irma and perhaps Maria haven’t seemed to do the trick.  Likewise, eight geriatrics warehoused in a for-profit Hollywood, FL nursing home dying of heat exhaustion when the air conditioning went out caused little more than a momentary stir in the media when the hook became the location of the human dumping ground – right across the street from a Level-1 trauma center.

As we all enter the leading edge of a largely irreversible negative feedback loop of a warming planet, the strength and frequency of hurricanes seems likely to increase.  What happens when they’re all Cat-3 or Cat-4 when they make landfall?  How will capital and government respond?

The only dialectic worth exploring is this:  Russia and China are committed to a $20 trillion/20 year plan to build out continental networks of high speed rail to swiftly transport raw materials, finished goods and people as part of the One Belt One Road initiative, together with new, modern port systems to pull up hundreds of millions of people out of penury as part of the next industrial age of man. America spends a trillion dollars a year on bombs, death and dismemberment. One of these plans has a future.  The other does not.

As a low, slow flying entourage of military aircraft containing the Governor of Florida, an exonerated plunderer owing his fortune to an historic Medicare fraud, and the President, who learned his ethics at the knee caps of Roy Cohen, flew by just east of my house, I took cold comfort as I swept dank pools of bacteria rich sludge out of my garage.


Anthony Tarrant no longer toils for healthcare in retail fashion’s corporate mills. He lives and writes in Costa Rica, a poor country filled with incredibly happy people with no standing army since 1948. He can be reached at:

Post Navigation