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Imagine all the people living for today
Imagine there’s no countries.
It isn’t hard to do.
Nothing to kill or die for,
And no religion too.
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace.
You may say I’m a dreamer,
But I’m not the only one.
I hope some day you’ll join us,
And the world will be as one.

If you like these lyrics, you’re most likely to be young, progressive and/or a Westerner. A video of the song begins with John and Yoko walking through a misty woods towards an elegant mansion. Above the door, there’s a sign, “THERE IS NO HERE,” a clear reference to Thomas More’s Utopia, which literally means “no place.” Whereas More was being satirical, Lennon sang “Imagine” quite earnestly, and his admirers see it as an ideal. Considering how things are going in the West, they feel closer to this goal of having no countries than ever. Borders are bad, and nationalism is just another word for Fascism, they believe.

Ensconced in his sumptuous TittenhurstPark estate, Lennon crooned, “Imagine no possessions. I wonder if you can.” No, I can’t, John. Mi casa es tu casa is just a figure of speech, amigo. Interviewed by National Public Radio in 2006, Jimmy Carter actually claimed, “And of course, as you know, in many countries around the world—my wife and I have visited about 125 countries—you hear John Lennon’s song ‘Imagine’ used almost equally with national anthems.”

There is a 2004 film, It’ll Never Last, that’s about three British women with foreign husbands. Aristocratic Alexandra Tolstoy fell in love with a Muslim horseman while on a ten-month trip along the Silk Road. After the wedding, she moved into his grim, Soviet-era apartment on the outskirts of Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Patricia from Belfast married Tiziano and moved to Rimini, Italy.

Oxford-graduate Gemma Burford married a Massai warrior and moved into a rural house without running water or electricity in Tanzania.

If differences between countries were merely cosmetic and trivial, for we’re all the same, after all, these women should have been able to adjust well enough to their new environments, but none of these marriages lasted, and the first one to call it quit, even before the film ended, was Patricia. One might think that this is rather surprising, for she didn’t move into that foreign a culture, but of course all societies are alien to any other, and that’s why we have 196 countries, with each subdivided even further. Just as Idaho is not Mississippi, your average Bavarian wouldn’t want to move to Saxony.

Language isn’t just communication but a shared heritage, so if you can’t quite master a new tongue, you don’t quite belong in that community. At her wedding, Patricia pronounced anello [ring] as agnello [lamb], which cracked up the entire church, then at home, Tiziano started to carp about her cooking, and after dinner, he would go to his mama’s house for coffee and only return around 11.

Patricia had become drawn to Italians through the movies, “If I watched a foreign film or something, I liked the tall, dark man with the dark eyes, like Italian people. I just liked someone who was different from myself.” After the breakup, she reflected, “When I look at my wedding video, I just think I was so stupid, so very stupid. So naive.”

Tolstoy could talk to her man in Russian, and she swooned over his boldness, fearlessness and how he rode, so erect and shirtless, on a mare. Shamil also knew Alexandra was destined for him, “For example, I can tell straight away if a horse is right for me.” Bucking the Uzbek just five years later, this perfect horse is now shacked up with Sergei Pugachev, a Russian tycoon. They spend most of their time on the French Riviera.

Tolstoy claims that Putin wants to kill both her and Pugachev, while the Russian government has charged the former banker and shipyard owner with embezzlement. Sheltering Pugachev, France won’t turn him over, however, just as Russia won’t let Uncle Sam snatch Edward Snowden. Countries will always disagree, of course. Nine men, ten opinions. Before the Chinese dissident Liu Xiabo died in custody, Germany had offered him asylum.

Gemma Burford and her Masai beau, Lesikar, fell in love without even a common language, and there were other obstacles, such as the Masai tradition of polygamy. Filmed with several flies buzzing or landing on his face, Lesikar’s dad explained, “I spoke with Gemma’s parents. I said to them I would only agree to the marriage if Gemma would accept the possibility of Lesikar taking another wife.”

For his part, Lesikar was convinced he had found a right mate, “Finding a good wife is as hard as finding good cattle. It’s a matter of luck.”

Gemma’s affable dad recounted his first visit to Tanzania, “That trip was an eye opener. Up to the village, it was horrific, to be honest.” Then, “Most countries, you can talk about things, and people will know what you’re talking about, but there, of course, there was very little you could talk about that you had a common knowledge of, let alone a common interest.”

Still, Mr. Burford came round to embracing his son-in-law, thanks in part to Lesikar’s visit to England, “When he came over, he came dressed as a Masai warrior, with his blankets and his shoes, which are made out of rubber tires, and he also had his great, big 14-inch knife that he had at his side.

“Once he settled in at home, he was fine. The problem comes in trying to feed him. He only eats beef and lamb or goat. They don’t eat anything else. They eat vegetables. They don’t eat any sweet things. They don’t have cakes or anything.

“We were quite surprised at how quickly he picked up things, how bright he was. The thing that strikes you with Lesikar is his smile. The room lights up when Lesikar smiles. Everyone falls for that. He really is a very nice chap, but also very intelligent, we’re beginning to find.”

Lesikar, “The things I missed most were my cows and my family. I didn’t like the food. Although my mother-in-law tried very, very hard to make it tasty, the meat tasted like paper.”

Lesikar was glad to return to his Masai ways, with Gemma joining him. Without resolving the polygamy issue, they wedded after she got pregnant. There is a scene of her doing laundry outside, using a plastic tub, “Yeah, I do feel at home here. I don’t feel as at home here as I want to. I think the more I live here, the more I will feel at home here [...] A lot of people say it all the time, and even here, they say, ‘Ah, you’ll never cope, you’ll never cope.’ Just watch me. OK, I’ll put you on the guest list for our silver wedding, God willing.”

Gemma’s dad had a concern, “I think the one thing with the difference in culture is the worry that the women are regarded, not inferior, but they have their jobs, and the men have their jobs, and the women’s jobs are all the manual work, and the men’s job is thinking and drinking, and I can’t see Gemma settling for that.”

After giving birth to a daughter, Gemma had to confront the issue of female circumcision, “At the moment, there is no other way… for a girl to become a woman. They believe you can’t have a healthy child if you haven’t been circumcised.”

They moved to Arusha, a city of 400,000, and founded a safari business, but the marriage collapsed in 2010, with Lesikar returning to his family and cows. Gemma wrote in 2017, “Lesikar has moved on and had more children, although he hasn’t quite equalled his father’s record yet.” In the film, Lesikar stated, “I am one of nineteen children. Sorry, I mean seventeen.”

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Ethnicity, Nationalism 

All over America, I’ve seen posters warning against drug addictions. In Cheyenne, it’s “METHAMPHETAMINE / Don’t live this tragic story.” A few blocks away, I stepped over used needles on the sidewalk. In Buffalo, it’s an image of a beer bottle and a pill bottle, with “HEROIN addiction starts here…” Appended to it was a homemade sign, “SHOOT YOUR LOCAL HEROIN DEALER.” Also in Buffalo, it’s a photo of a seemingly dead man on the floor, with “Learn how to recognize OPIOID OVERDOSE and SAVE A LIFE.” In Cleveland, it’s a tagged toe in a morgue, with “DEATH BY HEROIN OVERDOSE IN CUYAHOGA COUNTY HAS QUADRUPLED,” and this was in 2014, before the prevalence of fentanyl.

In 2016, Philly had 277 murders and 907 fatal drug overdoses. For 2017, murders are up 21% and drug deaths, 33%. What’s your town’s drug toll?

A 33-year-old friend admits to popping street-bought Xanax every now and then to help her sleep. I suspect she’s on various pills, if not heroin, for she’s always broke and borrowing money. She has a spotty memory, sporadic hygiene and pinpoint pupils.

At Friendly, I sat next to my buddy Jeff, who’s in his late 40’s and HIV positive. Each day, Jeff pops a dozen pills, including Klonopin, a benzodiazepine that can trigger paranoid or suicidal thoughts, as well as degrade your memory, judgment and coordination. Mixed with other substances, particularly alcohol, it can slow your breathing or even kill you. Jeff is always drinking.

“Jeff, man, you’re always so outgoing, so gregarious, I can’t imagine you having anxieties!”

“That’s because of the Klonopin, dude. Without it, I’d be a mess. Without it, I’d be up all night pissed off, you know, about some stupid argument I had 15 years ago, some fight with a hot dog vendor who gave me ketchup instead of mustard!”

“That’s serious.”

“Here’s what it looks like,” Jeff showed me some innocent white pills in a yellow bottle. “You want one?”

“No, thanks.”

Jeff took one out anyway and gave it to the bartender, 42-years-old Lisa. She stashed it away for later.

Lisa is prescribed Buspar, also for anxiety, but it’s weaker than Klonopin and slower to kick in. Lisa justified, “After eight or nine hours here, sometimes you’re, like, whoaaa, so the Buspar helps, but I don’t take it often.” She’s also swallowing pain-killers for a foot.

Down the bar was a new guy, Dominic. It turned out he’s a writer, with a book of stories coming out in 2018. “Congratulations, man!” I shouted. “It’s not easy to get fiction published these days.”

Dominic said he had a story online, “And it has pills in it, too.”

Millions of people ingest pills unnecessarily, but Dominic’s character is a bonafide walking hell. From his “Sick Little Man”:

That’s the core of psychosis, really: sickness. And since your knowledge of the world is filtered through that sickness, the whole world begins to look as grotesque and spoiled as you. And when there’s no good left to spoil, your sickness turns on you, it becomes you, and you the sickness turn on yourself, a black hole for which all things rot and disappear, like light lost in shadow. There’s nothing in this world that doesn’t sicken you to your bones, sad and dank and putrid animals that reek of death and stupidity, a stupidity so hopeless and consuming that you buckle over nauseated, sick to your stomach, sick to your sickness.

In my 20’s and 30’s, I had manic bouts where I thought God spoke to me, and everyone and everything just adored me. Finally, I was in the House of Light, and everything in the world was eager to help me. Unmolestable, at last, I had no anxieties.

As I walked across a bridge, all these hovering pigeons surrounded me and flapped their wings most vigorously. Fanning my face, they just wanted to bring me comfort and joy, you see, but you can’t be that batshit and not pay a price, thus the comedowns were infernal. Still, I visited no doctors, so took no pills. I don’t even like aspirins.

Once in Oakland, though, I bought a homeless woman a beer and a cup of coffee, so she reciprocated with a green pill. As she popped one, I did the same. It’s impolite to not eat or drink what’s offered.

Twenty-seven-years old, Loudmouth Mike was addicted to just about every drug for eight years. In rehab for the last two, he takes Methadone. “It’s also a drug, man, so when I’m walking down the street, it’s like I’m watching TV. Nothing is real.” A maintenance guy for an apartment building, Loudmouth is getting married soon. He’s straightening his life out.

After working eight years for a doctor, 32-year-old June became so depressed over always giving opioids to patients, she had to quit. She now toils in a kitchen.

Twelve years ago, Linda got sick so the doctor gave her pain killers, which increased in quantity and intensity until she was prescribed time-release morphine. Sedated, she became ever more reclusive, to the point of being confined, nearly all day, inside her dark room. She won’t even sit on the porch, much less leave the house.

Five years ago, her husband, Ted, got an inheritance of $120,000, so he suggested, five months later, that they and their two boys take a much needed vacation. Nothing fancy, just a trip to the JerseyShore for a few days. Working a dirty, physical job, Ted was exhausted. Calmly, Linda said that the money was all gone. Worse, she hadn’t paid their rent for seven months.

Most foolishly, Ted not only let it go, but continued to allow Linda to handle the family finance. When Ted got into a minor car accident recently, it turned out Linda had also ignored his car insurance payments, so he may lose his driver’s license, something he needs for work.

Ted’s life insurance had also been nixed due to non payment. The cable television bill, though, was always promptly paid, for Linda had to watch Criminal Mind, Law and Order, Blue Blood and 48 Hours, etc. Television and drugs define happiness for too many Americans. That, and spewing venom online pseudonymously.

When Ted insisted they have a serious conversation, Linda went berserk and called 911, twice. He’s now living in a group home run by a blind nun.

“She’s acting like a typical junkie, Ted,” I said to him over the phone.

“I’m afraid you’re right, Linh. My wife is a different person. We’ve been married 28 years, and for most of that time, I was the happiest husband alive. Even after that inheritance disappeared, I’d not have traded Linda for any wife in the world. She settled me down, cooked, had my friends over for parties. They all envied me, Linh. My wife would rather plant tomatoes in the garden than go shopping. When my dad got sick, Linda took care of him for a couple of years. I’ll always remember that. My wife was perfect, Linh, and always very frugal.”

“Now, she’s lying to you, kicking you out of the house and suing you for support!”

“At 65, I’ve become the AARP poster boy for the opioid epidemic!”

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Drugs, Opioids, White Death 

The Western media shame Germans, stay silent on endless attacks against Muslim countries and insist on massive immigration into mostly white nations.

Meanwhile, false flags are staged that are blamed on Muslims, with the aim of flaming hatred between pale, nominal Christians and darker Muslims, for this animosity distracts from the systematic economic and war crimes committed by our common, mostly hidden rulers.

Until Israel is voided, Muslim societies will continue to be destroyed, thus flooding Europe with Muslim refugees.

For two years, I’ve received reports on Germany from a friend in Frankfurt. Yesterday, Christian sent me his latest, and I responded with six emails, only three of which reached his mailbox. Never before has this happened.

It’s ironic that Christian’s report is mostly about two new laws that allow the German state to monitor its citizens’ electronic communication and to criminalize online statements.

One is popularly dubbed Lauschangriff [Bugging Operation], while the second is called Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz [Network Enforcement Law].

Since my emails to Christian suddenly couldn’t get through, I started to wonder if it was Lauschangriff at work? Whatever. We found another way to communicate. Grimly, Christian relates:

First, some happy news: Bild Zeitung, the German tabloid with the power to make or break politicians, is 65-years-old. Hurrah! Ein Tusch! Due to the joyous event, every household found a Bild in its mailbox. What did we find in there? Half the pages were advertisements and the rest were German politicians, businessmen or other contemporary idols telling us how wonderful our country is, and that we should constantly accept refugees, who will contribute to a better future, etc.

Our chancellor, Mrs. Merkel, tells our happy citizens that Germany stands, above all, for two things: eternal responsibility for the Holocaust and the integration of immigrants. Maybe one needs not wonder why the circulation of Bild-Zeitung has dropped 50% in the last 15 years. Of course, we are told that this was the fault of the bad, bad internet, which makes people more stupid, hateful and misinformed.

While Bild Zeitung was just doing its job of keeping people REALLY dumb and misinformed, our Minister of Justice, Heiko Maas, was also busy. Last Thursday, Maas’ wet dream was achieved when the Bundestag decided on a new law for more surveillance of online and messenger services. Germans are now calling it the Lauschangriff [Bugging Operation].

Ah, die Wunder der deutschen Sprache! My beloved mother tongue is full of clear and precise words, and there is also this wonderful German ability to call things by its real names. Just as with the Lügenpresse [lying press], we now have the Lauschangriff. A liberal or leftist who cares more for foreigners than his own people is dubbed a Gutmensch [good man]. Thanks to academics and media pundits, however, we now learn that only bad, hateful people use such terms.

Back to topic: The new law allows the state to secretly hack into computers, laptops, tablets, smart phones and messenger services, etc., to look into all electronic communication, in short, on the pretext of identifying terrorists, a most nebulous term, for any critic of the state may now be labeled a “terrorist.”

Our police and secret services now have legal access to the private data of all citizens.

What a wonderful new world! When a similar law was introduced a decade ago, it was met by fierce resistance from the media and public. Not this time!

Yes, there is the possibility that our highest court, the Bundesverfassungsgericht, might yet decide that the new law is unconstitutional, and some in the press are complaining, but there are no street demonstrations or a serious debate about this manifestation of Big Brother. Zero, zilch, nix, nein. People are just too tired, wasted, kaput. They just want to have a good time. Let’s go clubbing or have a barbecue…

And it doesn’t end there, of course: the Bundestag also passed the Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz [Network Enforcement Law], which can criminalize online statements as illegal hate postings.

Great! The social media will be forced to delete hate speech immediately, but who defines hate speech? It’s a question for philosophers, not lawyers. In dubio pro hate speech. From now on, haters, baiters and Schlechtmenschen will have a hard time… Our Minister of the Interior, Thomas de Maiziere, actually declared, “It cannot be that there are areas where the state has no influence.” He really said that!

The very foundations of our civil rights are openly destroyed, but no one sees it. It’s almost comical.

Instead, media focus is on the danger coming from the RIGHT! Ja, we should fear the RIGHT for all time! The AfD, a party resembling the American Republican, are portrayed by the Lügenpresse as dangerous Nazis.

Twisting reality, they are shown as the great danger, while it is THEIR men and women who are persecuted and attacked. Several cars of AfD-MPs have been burned, several AfD-members have been beaten by Antifa-thugs, windows of restaurants where AfD-members frequent have been smashed and employees dare not admit they voted for the AfD, etc.

Meanwhile, foreigners are still flooding in. Official sources say we should expect 500,000 migrants and refugees for 2017. Who knows what the real figure will be? Yes, let them all come. Our cities change before our eyes.

And yet, the danger lurks from the RIGHT, we’re told. A soldier in the German Bundeswehr was found with Nazi memorabilia. Foaming, our minister of defense rightfully said that we should ban all signs of the Wehrmacht in German barracks. Yes, let’s scrub away the dirty past!

On the other hand, we are constantly erecting Holocaust memorials in each city. In Frankfurt, where I live, three more have been built in recent weeks. Ja, ja, we should always be reminded of how bad and vicious Germans can be.

An expert told us recently that wearing a pigtail might indicate a Nazi mindset. Another maven warned of Nazi teachers in German kindergartens! The same warning went out to schools, universities and companies, for Nazis are everywhere! Though invisible, they are literally everywhere!

Meanwhile, practically every week there are news of Muslim terrorists being arrested. An independent journalist found out that in the first three months of 2017, some 27 Muslims in Germany were seized by the police for planning a terror attack. As for the evil Nazis??? In one case, two Nazis with explosives were arrested.

True, there are false flags, but there are now enough radical Islamists in Germany to destabilize our country. Muslim countries are bombed and demolished, so they flee to societies many of them won’t understand, where they’re even encouraged to NOT integrate. Therefore, the rift between Muslim immigrants and Christian natives will only widen.

Then you have the horrible job statistics of the refugees. Though a catastrophe in the making, it is depicted as an economic stimulus. What?! Most refugees will remain on social assistance and only contribute to the German workforce in about 10 years, and only if integration really works. Most of their skills and knowledge are not usable in the German job market.


One Friday, Jonathan Revusky and I went to see lucha libre. On a night featuring Valiente, Mistico, Misterioso, Rey Cometa, Euforia, Rush, Virus, Fuego, Stigma, The Panther, Blue Panther Jr., Tiger and Puma, etc., Arena Mexico only truly erupted at the appearance of Samuel Polinsky, a 6-foot-4, bleached blonde 28-year-old from Monroeville, Pennsylvania.

Before arriving in Mexico in May of 2016, Polinsky had wrestled in the US, England, Germany and Italy while calling himself Bill Callous, Buddy Stretcher, Sam Elias and Sam Adonis. With the last, he cultivated an obnoxiously narcissistic California surfer dude persona, but it wasn’t until the election of Trump that Polinsky hit pay dirt.

Before each match, Sam Adonis prances out waving a large American flag with Trump’s face in the middle. Enraged, the crowd rise from their seats to scream obscenities, in English even, and to salute the loud-mouthed villain with a middle finger or bras d’honneur. Bout over, they throw popcorn or coins in Sam’s direction as he taunts them.

“He came as the representative of the United States, a faithful supporter of its politics. Coming to you all, Saaaaam Adonis!” the announcer screamed. [“Llegó el representante de Estados Unidos, fiel seguidor a sus políticas. Llega con ustedes, ¡Saaaaam Adonis!”]

On this night, Sam had the canton on the fly end of his Stars and Stripes, which made it even more wrong and flippant. Arriving from the States, his family actually sat at ringside. In the ring, one of his opponents ripped the flag from Sam to use as a muleta, so the tall gringo obligingly lunged at it repeatedly as the crowd mirthfully shouted, “Olé!”

During the match, Sam was thrown from the ring several times, and even tossed once beyond the barricade separating fans from performers. With such a palpable hostility, I actually feared for the man’s safety, but it was just fun-and-game and cathartic theater. Right in front of me, a guy in a KISS cap, worn backward, was a kinetic bundle of hatred, and he predictably exploded when Sam and his partners were allowed to win. At the end of the night, however, many of these angry fans would ask for Sam’s autograph or take a photo with him.

Sam to Los Andes, an Argentinean newspaper, “This flag is money to me. Many people get pissed off, but it’s the secret to my success.” Though fresh off the boat, Sam has a Mexican girlfriend and can answer interviewers in Spanish. He’s in demand all over, Guadalajara, Zaragoza and Zacatecas, etc. Sometimes Sam is paired with another American, Mark Jindrak of Auburn, New York, and they wrestle as Los Hijos de Trump, or Sons of Trump.

By his own admission, Sam Adonis was inspired by the Iron Sheik, an Iran-born wrestler who riled up American crowds with an Iranian flag, often with “IRAN” on it to drive the point home. Incongruously, the Iron Sheik wore a keffiyeh, and his previous alias was The Great Hossein Arab. Iranians, duh, are not Arabs, but some people must become cartoon assholes to make a buck. Other Muslim villains in American wrestling include the Iraq-born Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie, the white Georgian Sheik Ayatollah Blackwell and the black Canadian Abdullah the Butcher.

By showing up in Mexico at all, Sam Adonis presents Mexicans with a live target that can be cursed, punched, kicked and generally humiliated, and though this piñata does fight and insult right back, Sam is in a weakened position and entirely at their mercy, simply because he’s in their house. Unlike Trump, Sam can’t deport anybody, but they can certainly kick him out. By speaking Spanish, however, Sam’s shown himself to be a gracious immigrant and, deep down, a lover of Mexico.

Eschewing naturalism, pre-Hispanic art in Mexico tended to be stylized, symbolic or grotesque, and this impulse has survived in their lucha libre, Day of the Dead and Dance of the Old Men, etc. They understand masks.

The greatest Mexican wrestler of all time is El Santo. The Silver Masked Man also appeared in 52 films, in which he fought headhunters, zombies, Mafiosi, Martians, Wolf Man, Dracula, The White Shadow, The Evil Brain, Dr. Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s daughter, female vampires, she-wolves and karatecas, etc. Dead since 1984, El Santo is being resurrected online, with fake movie posters featuring the Mexican superhero fighting Trump as a Nazi, vampire or zombie, etc. Among the titles are Santo vs. The President of Terror and Santo and Blue Demon [another famous Mexican wrestler] Against the Son of a Bitch and his Fuckin’ Wall.

After Trump was elected, there was a movement to boycott American businesses in Mexico, but each Starbucks, McDonald’s, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Carl’s Jr. and Dunkin’ Donuts I passed was packed, and it was hardly unusual to see the American flag on clothing. In Tepotzotlán, I ran into a chubby dude in a muscle T with silhouettes of a soldier and helicopters over the Stars and Stripes, and “THANK YOU” beneath it, and in a Mexico City dive, Nueva Oficina, I spotted a young man at the bar with a small American flag sticking out of the front pocket of his pants. At Mexican cinemas, the top 28 grossing films for 2017 are all American, with The Fate of the Furious, Beauty and the Beast, How to be a Latin Lover, The Boss Baby and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 leading the pack. The most popular Mexican movie, Mientras el Lobo No Está, languishes at 34th place. Hating Trump, Mexicans are still enamored of the USA.

Speaking of Trump, Sam Adonis told the Associated Press, “I embrace the fact that he is a villain. He’s going to do what he has to do and what he thinks is right. If you don’t agree with him, that doesn’t really bother him. He’s going to push forward with what he thinks is right, and the fact that he’s embraced his public perception, whether it’s good or bad, I have respect for that.”

Like millions of other Americans, Sam believed Trump to be genuine and uncompromising. To the San Jose Mercury News, however, Sam hinted at a deeper insight, “He’s kind of embraced his position, as you like me or you don’t, but I’m not changing. It is almost a professional wrestling mentality and I have a sympathy for that.” So there you have it. Trump has a professional wrestling mindset.

Jesse Ventura, a wrestler turned politician, has repeatedly pointed out the similarity between American politics and professional wrestling. In 2010, Ventura said, “Politics today is pro wrestling. It is pro wrestling, and you know what I mean by that? I mean by that that the Dems and Repubs in front of you [reporters] and in front of the public is going to tell you how they hate each other, and how they’re different, but as soon as the camera is off, in the backroom, they’re all going out together, and they’re all buddies cutting deals. It’s just like pro wrestling. In front of the public, we hate each other, we’re going to rip our heads off, but in the locker room, we’re all friends. I’m suggesting politics is fake.”

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Donald Trump, Mexico 

Jonathan Revusky and I were in Mexico City for eight days. Though Jon had been there twice, this was my first taste of this extremely complex, exhilarating and sophisticated metropolis. For $85 a night, we had a spacious two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in Cuauhtémoc. It was cheaper than, say, Spokane, yet here we were in a world-class city.

Prior to this, my only experiences of Mexico were limited to border-hugging Tijuana, Juarez and Ojinaga. At Candelaria, Texas, a town of 70 people a good 257 miles from El Paso, the nearest city, I also crossed an illegal footbridge into San Antonio del Bravo, but all I saw were a few dusty cars and trucks, so I walked right back. It was certainly not a good idea to putz around a well-known drug transit point in the middle of the ChihuahuanDesert, but there was no bar in Candelaria to park my ass. Since I had no cellphone then, I would have been literally toast had my rented car broken down coming or going.

Modeled after Champs Elysées, Paseo de la Reforma is actually more elegant, with several magnificent monuments. Crossing it from our apartment, we ended up in Zona Rosa. There in 2005, my friend Ian Keenan saw “two guys breaking into a car and trying to start the transmission, alarm blaring, while two female cops were at the street corner, with their backs turned.”

In 2007, another Philly buddy, Steve, was lured into a Zona Rosa bar with another American. Promptly, two sweet-voiced, pretty ladies appeared to keep their company, and you can guess what happened next. The bill for a few drinks came to over a thousand bucks, and when our gringos refused to pay, a couple of beefy guys “as big as Samoans” wrested a $5,000 watch from Steve’s friend’s wrist, as the victim screamed and bled. Back out into the cool, pleasant street, festive with drunken carousers, the two Yanks found a cop who smilingly told them to go back in to retrieve the Cartier themselves.

Shit, man, the above scam is also practiced in Istanbul, Budapest and, well, hundreds of other cities. If a foreign knockout suddenly finds you irresistibly sexy, just remember you’re not all that, you beer-bellied loser. Zona Rosa is certainly not that bad now. Though touts still offer “Chicas?” or “Lap dance?” at night, the neighborhood is solidly middle-class, with an upscale mall and plenty of nice restaurants, including 15 Korean ones. With a thousand Koreans in Zona Rosa, this Pequeño Seúl boasts all sorts of businesses, including a famous hair salon patronized by many Mexican celebrities.

In Ukraine last year, I was surprised by how popular sushi was, and it’s big in Mexico City also, with sushi being sold from street stalls even. Sushi Itto is a Mexican chain of 120 restaurants in nine countries, with 16 in Mexico City alone. In the US, Mexicans make every sort of ethnic food because they can quickly grasp and appreciate its complexities, subtleties and appeals. I find this openness truly remarkable. In California, I’ve seen many Mexican families at Vietnamese eateries, but never vice versa. In Tijuana, there are four Vietnamese restaurants owned and operated by Mexicans.

Just South of Zona Rosa is La Condesa, a hipster haven and home to many American expats. Walking through, Jon and I did hear more English spoken, but it’s striking there were so few white faces in Mexico City, even in the most touristy areas. Last year, 23,000 Mexicans were killed in its drug wars, and perhaps it’s this perception of Mexico as an insanely violent and chaotic place that has scared away many visitors and immigrants. In 2016, nearly 60,000 Americans also died from drug overdoses, so our inability to endure life without pills, powder and dope is causing war-like casualties on both sides of the border. Without its sick northern neighbor, Mexico would be a much healthier place.

On my first visit to Juarez, I saw soldiers perched on a tank at the foot of the international bridge, a sight that didn’t alarm as much as charmed me. Walking into town, the city’s bustle and colors reminded me of my birthplace, Saigon. At a restaurant, a girl of about nine, in her school uniform, went from table to table to beg, quite matter of factly, without obsequiousness. Perhaps out of pride, she skipped me, the only foreigner. In baby Spanish, I burped a few mangled words at the friendly, middle-aged waiter, who advised me to be extra careful. I was in Juarez.

Wandering around Juarez before dawn, I saw tired prostitutes resting on couches in darkened doorways. Though I was starving, the city was just waking up. Like a dream, a large, bright eatery appeared that was filled with customers. “Comida China,” it advertised. I waited for the goat and tripe vendor to open.

Home to legendary drug lords Manuel “The Viper” Carrasco, Shorty Lopez and Pablo Acosta Villareal, “The Ojinaga Fox,” Ojinaga made the news in 1976 when its entire police force and their families fled to the US to escape being killed by Pedro Avilés Pérez, the Sinaloan kingpin. In 2006, I found the town pleasant if sleepy, with excellent caprito in its restaurants. Returning stateside once, my car and I were thoroughly inspected by a very suspicious officer. He did everything but peer up my exhaust pipe.

In Tijuana, I was hosted for a day by an American Jesuit priest and fellow Philadelphian. At the beach, he showed me the border fence where illegal immigrants to the US could talk to their relatives. The tall and tightly meshed metal barrier was even painted and decorated on the Mexican side. At dusk, I saw Mexicans dressed like ninjas, all in black to avoid detection, as they prepared to cross. If caught, they could try again another night.

In Mexico City, the only daily signs of the drug wars are the horrific photos in Alarma!, the gore tabloid. After much walking, Jon and I popped into El Péndulo, as civilized a bookstore as you’ll find anywhere. Among the books prominently displayed were editions of Borges, Céline and Bolaño, and two monographs on the German Neo-Expressionist, Georg Baselitz. Nursing a fine wine, one could sit on the balcony, a couch or at a table, and there was also an area for full-course meals. The softly played music ranged from Billie Holliday to Chet Baker, to the Catalan Joan Manuel Serrat.

In Italy, the biggest book chain was founded by Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, who also created the militant Gruppi di Azione Partigiana. Feltrinelli accidently died from his own explosives while trying to cut off electrical power to Milan. In Mexico, Mauricio Achar believed that many of Mexico’s problems resulted from its citizens’ lack of reading, so he founded the first Gandhi bookstore in 1971. Now there are 36. Judging from the many well-stocked newsstands and packed bookstores, Mexicans are devouring the written words. Borrúa is another thriving chain. My only poetry collection that’s been translated was handsomely published in Mexico City in 2012.

I visited the Borrúa in Bosque de Chapultepec and found that it catered to the most serious readers, not just casual ones, with plenty of art books, and a large section for kids. The space itself was high-ceilinged, bright, cheery, with vast views of trees and a lake, just outside. Over its entrance, “all the flavors, all the mysteries, all the passions are in Porrúa.”

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Mexico 

Despairing Americans often threaten to move to Canada, but how many even know what it’s like now? Many liberals assume that our northern neighbor is more progressive, while those on the right might think that it’s, ah, whiter. Ask your average American to name ten Canadians, and it’s likely that nine will be white guys who can deftly handle a puck, with the tenth, the ultra-vanilla Justin Bieber.

According to Statistics Canada, 28% of Canada’s population will be foreign-born by 2031. In 2011, 4.53% of its residents were already Chinese, and on three visits to Toronto since, I’ve seen many more Han faces on the streets. Chinatown is pushing east into downtown, and west into Trinity Bellwoods, Little Portugal and Little Italy.

Outside Dragon City Mall in the heart of Toronto’s Chinatown, an old man played the erhu while another peddled rat traps from a cart. Within sight, Scotia Bank and National Bank had signs in Chinese.

With such an influx of immigrants and refugees, Toronto now touts itself as the most multicultural city on earth, even more so than London, New York or Paris. Its inhabitants, then, can sample not just a vast array of international dishes, but also hybrids such as sushi burritos at Rolltation or Dr. Pepper-flavored Jamaican pulled pork on a Belgian waffle, at Junked Food Co. In Kensington Market, there’s an eatery called Hungary Thai. Sticking to the basics, Ian and I chowed on banh mi, then, for dessert, Colombian candied crickets, bought from a street kiosk.

Within the shadow of Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal is New-Agey Boutique Lotus, and two doors down is Ming Tao Xuan, as astonishing a Chinese tea house as you’ll find outside Asia. With its many display cases filled with teapots, buddhas, sculpted animals, crystals, necklaces and bracelets, it’s also a museum. Tea choices range from the White Hair Silver Needle, Golden Beautiful Eyebrow, Black Tartary Buckwheat to Chun Jian Raw Pu’er, with everything served in clay tea pots on bamboo trays.

It’s been in business for decade. As my friend Ian and I sipped from aromatic cups at a rosewood Ming table, the middle-aged proprietor stood by the counter and crooned along to a recorded ballad, chuckling every so often at its lyrics.

Outside the large picture window, a white, female beggar in a yellow windbreaker stood at the corner of Bressole and Saint Sulpice. Streaming by, foreign and domestic tourists mostly ignored her. Leaving Ming Tao Xuan, we could hear her singing “Que Sera, Sera.”

At Dunn’s Downtown Diner, we ate the confounding poutine to Bollywood music. As I struggled through my mess of French fries and curd cheese smothered in brown gravy, I lamented to Ian, “I can’t believe any French population could come up with this!”

Our waiter was a second-generation Portuguese-Canadian. “Yes, I can still speak Portuguese. Language is a big issue in Canada. Here in Quebec, sometimes you’ll hear two people talking in English and French, with each refusing to speak the other’s language!”

To babble a foreign tongue is to petition for admission into another family and heritage, a farcical failure in most cases, and that’s why most people don’t stray from their mama lingo. Even within a language, dialects and accents further divide. We are not one. Strolling through Kensington Market, I spotted the Hainan Association of Ontario. Even after half a century of internationalist indoctrination, Chinese are most trusting and loyal to people from their home region.

Nearer downtown, I caught a flyer that said, “BURN THE DETENTION CENTRES. DEPORT THE GOVERNMENT. WELCOME THE REFUGEES.” Similar flyers can be found in all majority-white countries, and notice how no protest is raised about not generating refugees in the first place.

With no government, there are no borders to be defined, much less defended, but this is fine, see, since we’re all one, and this, mi amigo, is precisely the message being pushed relentlessly by the corporate, globalist elite to their progressive consumers. At Yonge-Dundas Square, the Hard Rock Cafe had this slogan on its facade, “ALL IS ONE.”

Inside the EatonCenter, an upscale luggage outfit displayed a large poster of “SUNNY WANG / Global Citizen.” On YouTube, there’s a video of Sunny flying on a chartered plane, swimming with sharks and even meditating on the ocean floor. Très cool. “As humans, we have a responsibility for this planet.” With a $350 backpack and $1,200 suitcase from Tumi, you too can be a responsible global citizen.

Sunny Wang reminds me of a Canadian editor at Dissident Voice, “DV Co-Editor Kim Petersen enjoys scuba diving, working out, and advancing the struggle for a world based on principles of peaceful and equitable sharing and respect for the environment and life … and Anton Berg marzipan. He studied at universities in occupied First Nations territory (‘British Columbia,’ ‘Canada’) and Norway.”

After giving articles to Dissident Voice for several years, I stopped when Petersen objected to my using “Indians” to describe the people of Wolf Point, Montana. Very politically correct, certain Canucks.

With its French language as relative barrier, Montreal attracts fewer immigrants than Toronto or Vancouver, but this city has also become much more mixed. Stumbling into Barfly in Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, Ian and I managed to chat with a few locals about a rapidly changing Canada.

On a warm, pleasant evening, we sat around a picnic table behind this charmingly grubby bar. John, in his early 50’s, said, “We live in a little bubble here, but honestly, no one I know, at all, is grumbling about immigrants.”

Maddy, 40-ish, elaborated, “It’s not an issue, because there’s so much space, and so much resource.”

John, “There was an actual issue for a brief spell, in the early 90’s. It had specifically to do with French schools, because the French schools had traditionally been Catholic and white, and what was happening in Montreal was schools winding up with, say, 40% immigrants. You had a lot of Spanish students who came in. That was reported on more than 20 years ago, but it’s over. Let me put it this way, ethnic gangs in schools are not a problem.”

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Canada, Immigration, Multiculturalism 

Jonathan Revusky was in Philly for a few days, and I had a great time showing Jon around. We went to Kensington, Fishtown, Camden, Point Breeze, Little Cambodia and Rittenhouse Square, all but the last at the sinking end of the economic scale, places I’m well familiar with. At Jack’s Famous Bar, we ordered a cheesesteak and a roast beef sandwich for just $4 each, my kind of price, and I thought our lunch excellent. In Camden, I steered Jon to a bodega where a cheesesteak was just $3.50. Jon said, “I would never have walked into a place like that, if I wasn’t with you.” Most Americans wouldn’t go to Camden, period, even if you paid them.

Jon also introduced me to an alien Philadelphia, for he treated me to fancy joints like Paradiso Italian restaurant and Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steak House. When you can burn a Ben Franklin for dinner, life certainly becomes so much more civilized and soothing, and the lower class is mostly reduced to beautiful and smiling servers. “Is there anything else I can get you?” beamed the wholesome, slim waitress with the cute dimples.

Though living comfortably in Spain, Jon is well aware that his homeland is in steep decline. Unlike me, he’s not so sure there will be civil unrest, “I go to places like Brazil, with its vast favelas, and the poor people do carry on. Perhaps Americans will just become poorer and poorer, and get used to it.”

As we strolled past Center City’s best collection of chi-chi shops and restaurants, Jon remarked, “Any top-tier Chinese city, like Shanghai, Shenzen, Guangzhou, etc., is, in most respects, so vastly superior to any American city at this point, it’s crazy. Not only do Americans not know this, but, as you pointed out, some would even get violently enraged at you if you said this. You mean this isn’t the best place in the world??!!”

Campaigning, Trump said, “Our airports are like from a third-world country,” not that anything is going to be done about it, for we’re worse than broke. Living in a near continent-sized country, it’s not easy to experience any other nation’s achievements, so few Americans have had a chance to be awed, say, by Berlin’s Central Rail Station or Seoul’s Incheon Airport.

After Jon left, I returned to one of the bars we hit to interview a bartender I’d known for a while. I thought of Katy because she had spent a decade mingling with the rich, if only as a server. As a housecleaner for many years, I did the same.

Katy agreed to talk if I would neither photograph her nor name her Center City bar. Deal!

I was born in Frankford. I went to a Catholic grade school, St. Joachim. I read, four years ago, one of the most horrific stories ever. This girl was coming home from the bus. She’s walking down Church Street, past St. Joachim. She was pulled into the school yard and raped, brutally. When the police found her, they said she was unrecognizable. It was one of the worst brutalities they had ever seen. She was in a coma for three weeks. Not only that, he gave her AIDS.

I remember reading this article and thinking, This is where I grew up. This is where I spent the first eight years of my life. Frankford is like Compton now.

I went to Little Flower, then FrankfordHigh School. It was lame growing up in the Northeast. I had no favorite subjects.

I love music. Both of my parents were jazz musicians. My mother was a jazz singer. She was so awesome! My father played drums. He was pretty well known in South Philly.

I came out of the womb with music, although I never played anything, which is kind of odd. I can sing a little. I love Miss Ella.

I went down to Delaware Avenue to hang out when I was 18. I started to bartend. I worked at the Aztec. I came in, I applied and that was it. I also worked at Rock Lobster.

It was really good money. I liked the diversity of people. It was a little glamorous. I got to meet a lot of people. At a restaurant, you don’t have to wait for a table after a while, because you may have waited on that waiter. Things like that.

I broke my toe. I was working at Rock Lobster, and I was limping. This guy went, “What’s wrong?” It turned out he was a foot doctor. I said I didn’t have any insurance. He said, “Don’t worry about it.” He operated on my toe, everything, and all for free!

I used to be really wild. I did a lot of drugs.

My friend was a bartender at the Cave. They had male strippers in the back, lots of bachelorette parties. It’s so fuckin’ hilarious. This lady, she tipped him a ten-dollar food stamp!

My manager was meeting a girl after work. She lived in Gladwyne. It’s, like, the most prestigious area in Philly. Very, very money oriented. He just smoked a bowl, so he’s a little paranoid. He thought he was going to get pulled over because he was black. They went through these back roads. He said, “What are these three Great Danes doing in the middle of the road?” They were deer! He was a manager at one of the hottest clubs, so he got a lot of ass. Ha, ha!

During the Blizzard of ’93, I went to Miami for a vacation and decided I was going to stay. I still have tons of friends down there.

You’re just in a better mood when it’s sunny out every day. When you have such a bad winter, and everything’s gray, gray, the sky, and there’s black snow on the ground, and it’s piled up, you know what I mean, and it’s freezing. You go to Miami, and it’s bright! Instead of pigeons outside, you see two dozen parrots. It’s beautiful.

I was a cocktail waitress at the number one club in the United States. It’s called the Velvet. They’re actually doing a documentary about it. It was so crowded, people would wait for hours to get in. It’s so bizarre.

We had the Money Party on Monday nights. You paid the cover, and everybody received an x amount in fake money. It was, like, anything goes. Whoever accumulated the most fake money at the end of the night won a grand prize. People would do the craziest things. Let’s put it this way, no cameras allowed! Girls would be going at it, on the bar. People would get naked. It was out of control.

We had a room called the Blue Room. One day, the Sugarhill Gang came in, so the DJ put their song on. There were, like, 14 of us in the room. He got up and he went, “See, I am Wonder Mike, and I’d like to say hello! To the black, to the white, the red and the brown, the purple and yellow!” He picked up my hand and he started singing it, so I was, like, with the lead singer of this band. It was so fuckin’ awesome! He was singing to me.

I met Charlie Sheen. He was so down-to-earth. I loved him. He’s one of my favorite people, as far as, like, famous. He started telling me jokes, and if I laughed, he gave me 20 bucks. Then I had to start telling him jokes. If he laughed, he would give me 50 bucks!

A lot of them were cheap. John Cusack was cheap. Charles Barkley was a good tipper. Dave Grohl, of the Foo Fighters, would tip people a thousand dollars.

• Category: Economics • Tags: Drugs, Poverty 

I’ve only been to New Haven four times, and last week, it was only to participate in the commemoration of the Fall of Saigon, as organized by the Vietnamese Studies Program at Yale. I was one of three poets invited. The other two were Phan Nhien Hao (b. 1967) and To Thuy Yen (b. 1938).

I’m the translator of the only book by Hao in English, Night, Fish and Charlie Parker (2005). I first met Hao in Saigon in 2000, and we’ve hung out in San Jose, Illinois and Philly. I’ve even bought a used car from the man. We’re friends, in short. Hao’s father died while fighting for South Vietnam in 1975.

To Thuy Yen, I only got to know last week at Professor Quang Phu Van’s house, where we all stayed. It’s very Vietnamese to prefer the friendlier, shared space of a home, instead of separate hotel rooms. We ate wonderful dishes cooked by Van’s wife and downed vast quantity of his beer, wine and whiskey. Our conversations lasted for hours.

Visiting Iceland in 2007, I learned that a Vietnamese water puppet troupe had performed there. At their hotel, the Vietnamese had converged into just two rooms to socialize, with many sleeping on the floor instead of returning to their own beds. The man who related this was quite bemused. With so few people, Iceland has more than enough space for everyone.

Since To Thuy Yen’s real surname is also Dinh, I brought that up immediately, but we couldn’t establish any shared regional roots. We did discover we had many mutual friends, however, despite our age difference. As a South Vietnamese colonel in charge of propaganda, Yen had many writers working under him.

I asked Yen how much influence did the Americans have on South Vietnamese propaganda, and he said very little, surprisingly. It was the Taiwanese who worked closely with Yen, “Since they had lost to the Communists, they had plenty of experience in dealing with them. The Taiwanese sent four advisors and maintained an office in South Vietnam for about a decade. Our people also went to Taiwan to learn.”

Wartime South Vietnam had many private newspapers, unlike the North, with its government monopoly on all publishing. “Whenever an article appeared that was somewhat favorable to the Communists, they would buy as many copies as possible, since this encouraged the editor to publish similar stories in the future. The article could also be distributed in areas under their control, for their propaganda.”

South Vietnam was also crawling with North Vietnamese agents. “One man was caught on the beach in Phan Thiet. He was originally a Southerner, so spoke like a local, but he had forgotten to adjust his watch! Back then, Hanoi was an hour ahead of Saigon. One of our policemen noticed this discrepancy.”

“That’s amazing!”

“Unfortunately, he was killed in jail by other Communists. They knew he had too much information.”

In hindsight, of course the man should have been kept separately but, as with any war, there were so many prisoners to manage. After the Fall of Saigon, Yen found himself locked up for 13 years altogether, “When they first came in, they had a guy with a red armband and an AK-47, guarding my house, then a truck came by to take all of my books away, to burn or sell as scrap.”

Before 1975, Yen sometimes interrogated Communists at a jail by the SaigonRiver. Now, he was kept in the same prison. “History is just people changing costumes,” Yen chuckled.

Like all South Vietnamese soldiers, Yen was never convicted or sentenced, but simply kept until his captors decided he was properly reeducated. After a decade, Yen was finally released. At least, he didn’t die in custody. His wife, whom I also met in New Haven, had brought food and medicines to Yen while he was imprisoned. The strength of the Vietnamese family is testified by the fact that so many women never abandoned their jailed and highly stigmatized husbands.

Life inside Vietnam was extremely difficult during those postwar years. In a 2000 interview, Phan Nhien Hao told me he had been hungry all the time, “One could hardly think of anything but food.” Luckily, Yen received cash assistance from overseas friends and admirers. Some visited him in Saigon.

When one of his poems was smuggled out and published anonymously in France, Vietnamese state intelligence quickly found out whose it was, thus Yen was again jailed, this time for three years.

“Did he apologize later?” I asked about the man who had leaked the poem. I know this prominent scholar.


In 1993, Yen and his family were finally allowed to emigrate to the US. “The day before we left, I warned my wife and kids to watch what they say even after we get on the plane, because it’s still their territory. They can always turn that plane around. It wasn’t until we had landed in Taiwan that we could speak freely.”

Though the global powers, Russia, China and the US, certainly got involved in the Vietnam War, it was still essentially a civil conflict. All of the groups that were aligned against the Communists, such as the Catholics, Cao Dai, Hoa Hao and various nationalist parties, were active way before the Americans showed up. This shouldn’t surprise, for Vietnam, like any other country, didn’t exist simply to be pro or against America. The same Vietnamese factions are still squabbling.

For over a century ending in 1775, Vietnam was also divided, with war erupting between the two halves regularly. Into eternity, most northerners will be annoyed by the southern accent, and vice versa. Like folks everywhere, Vietnamese value their family and home town above all, so no rootless, globalist ideology can enlist them, except by deceit, temporarily. Dodging taxes, they hate centralized control.

Yen, “All societies are tribal. You protect your family and friends, and you get by on your network of allies.”

One of those Yen took under his wings is a poet friend of mine, “He started out as a captain, but went AWOL twice, so was demoted to second lieutenant when assigned to me. He was totally useless as a soldier. He would be carousing in town all day, then steal cigarettes from my drawers in the evening. I would find him sleeping on my desk! Once he sneaked into a morgue to eat the banana offerings to a corpse!”

Of course, this man’s appalling behavior was deeply unfair to those who had to fight and die, but most men are more like him than a hero under fire. Behind the myth of a John McCain or Davey Crockett is often a frightened, browbeaten, bumbling and compromised mortal. Many others simply won’t fight out of an innate revulsion to slaughter.

• Category: History • Tags: Vietnam, Vietnam War 

On February 18th, I was in Detroit to attend a presentation, “The War on Islam: 9/11 Revisited, Uncovered & Exposed.” Sponsored by the Nation of Islam, it featured Kevin Barrett, Richard Gage and Christopher Bollyn.

Prefacing, Ilia Rashad Muhammad remarked that 9/11 is more relevant than ever, since it has been used to curb the freedoms of all Americans, especially Muslims. Moreover, it has “literally impacted America, and the world, like never before.” As a pretext for endless war, 9/11 hasn’t just deformed this whole earth, it threatens to destroy it.

Reminding us that false flags are far from unusual, Kevin Barrett cited 10 famous examples from history: Nero allegedly burning Rome; Gunpowder Plot; sinking of the USS Maine; sending of the Lusitania, a passenger ship loaded with explosives, into a war zone; Pearl Harbor; Gulf of Tonkin Incident; Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty; bombing of the USS Cole; 1993 World Trade Center bombing; all the post 9-11 false flags, including Orlando, Charlie Hebdo and the ones in Paris in November of 2015, etc.; 9/11.

Richard Gage patiently proved that the collapse of all three WTC buildings couldn’t have been caused by fire. He paid particular attention to Building 7, which was hit by no plane and suffered almost no damage before it collapsed, at free fall speed, into its own footprint. Gage stated that nano-thermite was found in WTC dust samples, and asked why 163,000 tons of concrete pulverized in mid-air? His organization, the 2,500-strong Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, simply wants a proper investigation into what happened.

Christopher Bollyn began by thanking Louis Farrakhan as “the only religious leader in our nation who has addressed the gigantic, horrendous fraud of 9/11.” Then:

9/11 was carried out to kick start the War on Terror, a Zionist war agenda of aggression, terrorism and conquest which continues to this day [...] We will not have peace as a nation, or a world, if we continue to accept the deception of 9/11 [...] If the government and media are lying to us about 9/11, it means that they are controlled by the very same people who carried out 9/11 [...] Both 9/11 and the War on Terror were conceived and planned in Israel in the 1970’s by Israeli military intelligence [...] The War on Terror is an Israeli stratagem, a ploy pushed by Netanyahu—since 1979—to trick the United States into waging war against Israel’s enemies.

With the 1979 Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism, the book Terrorism: How the West Can Win and speech after speech, Netanyahu’s central project is the War on Terror. Bollyn pointed out the absurdity of Bibi’s stance considering that Israel was founded on terror, is maintained by terror, and had a master terrorist, Menachim Begin, as one of its prime ministers.

All three speakers were raptly received by an audience of about two thousand, all but a dozen of them Black Muslims. Mingling afterwards, I met Rudy Dent, a retired fireman, ex cop and Vietnam vet. Flying from NYC, Dent was only in Detroit for a few hours.

This mild, affable man is known for an InfoWars interview, conducted in Times Square on September 11th, 2014. It already has 2.4 million views. Dent spoke of firemen being in Building 7 “calling for additional hand lines to mop up the isolated pockets of fire.” Because no skyscrapers had ever collapse due to fire, they never suspected this 52-story building would suddenly become their tomb.

Explaining that fire cannot, by itself, burn hot enough to melt steel, Dent related:

What we had in the WorldTradeCenter, and I saw myself, was molten, lava-like pockets of molten steel, all right? I spent the night on the pile searching for bodies, and I saw that with my own eyes. So who are you going to believe? Are you going to believe a bunch of government bureaucrats, or my fellow brothers, which I lost 343 guys that day? And I lost Tommy O’Hagan, Bruce van Hines and Kenny Cumple, and I can never forget that. I think of that before I go to bed. I think about it first thing in the morning when I wake up, and it’s in honor of them and their family that I will continue to do everything I can to make the rest of the world wake up to the fact that this was a false flag operation.

In Detroit, I tagged along as Dent was driven to the airport. We talked about his life, world view and, of course, experience of 9/11.

I saw the contradiction in real time, absolutely. You know, I was there in 1993. I was inside the building with the FBI. I saw the immensity of that explosion. It was surreal. I mean, it was fully intended to bring down, to topple the building. It blew a hole in the ground, through the concrete, about three stories down.

You know, they waited, then they did it again. In 2001, I was there to see the third building come down, and what caught my attention were not the explosions, because I’m used to explosions. I spent two and a half years in Vietnam, so I’m used to explosions, but when I saw my fellow firefighters jump in a panic reaction to the loud noise of an explosion, which they’re not used to, and they’re not trained for, that’s what shocked me. My fellow firefighters, they’re professional guys, but for the most part, they’re not combat veterans, right?

I looked at the building where the explosions came from, and that’s when I saw building 7 come down.

You know, the real simple thing anybody can see, from the start, is that if they look at Tower 1 or 2, it’s disintegrating from the top down. It’s being demolished, pulverized and blown up, from the top down, while the base remains solid. The difference with Building 7 is they blow it up from the bottom, and you see the whole building come down intact. That’s something any layman can look at and say, “Wait a minute! Something’s wrong here. Something is very, very wrong here.”

I spoke out right away, on FaceBook, then I met Richard Gage. That’s when I started to speak out on behalf of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth.

Richard brought it to the public’s attention. He broke into the mainstream and had them begrudgingly acknowledge that there was a Building 7. Otherwise, we would still not even know that Building 7 went down, so he was a key player. Given the legitimacy of Architects and Engineers, specifically focusing on their area of expertise, they could not be marginalized and dismissed.

The mainstream media interviewed Richard only with the intent of luring him into a trap. That is, of having him make a comment such as, “Well, it’s a conspiracy theory, you know,” but he avoided every trick and trap they tried to lure him into, and he responded by saying, “That’s a political assumption. We’re not political. We are specialists in our area of expertise, and we’re questioning the 9/11 Commission’s findings.”

I don’t know if you know this story, but Richard bought pizza for all of his associate architects, just to get them to come in and listen to him. Otherwise, nobody wanted to hear anything about “conspiracy theories,” and against the government, no less. That’s a big stretch and, you know, almost un-American.


My local dive, Friendly Lounge, was mentioned in I Heard You Paint Houses, a book soon to be turned into a movie by Martin Scorcese. Now Friendly’s featured quite prominently in The Last Don Standing, an account of the Philly mob by Ralph Natale. An infamous snitch, Natale still spent 27 years inside.

As I type this at Friendly, guitarist Jimmy Bruno and organist Joey DeFrancesco, both Philly guys, are killing it in the background. Anyway, this new book dubs this bar a training ground for the Mafia:

Hard case DiTullio developed an instant soft spot for the young Natale, providing a master’s class in the Mafia to his young and ambitious charge. His classroom was the Friendly Tavern on South Eight Street, where Natale proved a particularly apt pupil.

DiTullio is best known as “Skinny Razor,” father to Dominic and Marco, Friendly’s current owners. Marco loves that there’s a spotlight on this rather grungy, nondescript bar. Dom hates it. The book calls Skinny Razor a “legendary local mob killer.” A woman told me, “He was so handsome and impeccably dressed, but tough. He was a real badass!” The book:

if you were his enemy, [your] life would be considerably shortened. “We had more arms than an armory under the bar,” Natale recalled.

As far as I know, there’s only a blackjack behind bar now, and it hasn’t been used in years. The last time there was a commotion here was when a drunken Felix said to John the Hat that maybe John’s sister was pleasuring him. Absolutely not cool. John leapt off his stool, but Brad got in between them, and I, sitting next to Felix, persuaded him to apologize. Within minutes, everybody was laughing. We’re all friends here.

Another time, Johnny A.C. (for air conditioning) repeatedly screamed, in his bellowing, tenor voice, that Felix should move to Canada, all because Felix had mentioned Michael Moore. Felix actually hates Michael Moore. All across this increasingly angry nation, Americans are screaming at each other. Short fuse has become the norm. The very next day, Johnny came in with no memory of his bourbon-induced meltdown, and Felix holds nothing against him. We’re all family here.

Sometimes, though, retaliation or punishment must be met out. In the early 40’s, an insolent wise guy with a fake Irish surname showed up at Friendly. Not long before, Harry Barry had slashed a boss’ bodyguard in the face. Spotting Barry, Skinny Razor whispered to bookie Joe Panisi that he better collect whatever Barry owed him. Next morning, Barry’s corpse was discovered near the GeorgeWashingtonElementary School.

“That’s bullshit,” Dom objects. “He was found outside the police station, where the library is now. You know something else? If they were going to take out a guy, they might tip you off so you can go borrow money from him.” Dom grins. “There’s a lot Ralph Natale got wrong. My father got his nickname because he was a sharp dresser, not because he always carried a razor. Natale’s embellishing because he wants to sell books! Everyone has a story about my dad. He’s like the Paul Bunyan of South Philly.”

Dude’s a legend. At the end of “I Ain’t Got Nobody,” Louis Prima could be heard to yell, “Skinny! Skinny!”

Book, “He wasn’t flashy and never did anything for show. Killing was for business, period.”

In Friendly, there’s a charming, amateurish oil portrait of Skinny Razor in a suit and tie, smiling and smoking a cigarette. More than anything else, he resembles an insurance executive.

Dom, “It was rough back then. If you weren’t vicious, you wouldn’t survive. Guys on 9th Street all carried guns and knives. Now, they take debit cards. Get the fuck out of here!”

For all the alleged hits, Skinny Razor was never convicted, so technically, he never swatted a fly. Suave, he was seen with Kim Novak under his arm.

For all his bluster, Ralph Natale is the nadir of the Philly mob, a mascot for its most bumbling and farcical years. Natale got locked up for the first time in 1979 for torching Mr. Living Room in an insurance scheme. After a co-conspirator burnt himself, the doctor who treated him was visited by the fed, so a wise guy dropped by to tune him up. “Why beat up the fuckin’ doctor?!” Dom throws up his hands.

After Natale became a rat, soldier Angelo “Buddha” Lutz summed him up, “This guy’s like something out of Shakespeare. He was a comedy when he came in, and now he’s a tragicomedy.”

Hearing about the mob makes me think of Vietnam, where shakedowns by tax collectors and cops, and bribes to politicians, judges and professors, are all standard. With their abilities to extort, kidnap, injure or kill, the mob and government mirror each other, and in any failed or collapsing state, they become indistinguishable or the same. Like a militia, moreover, the mob may be your only protection against the government.

When the state deprives its subjects of natural, basic necessities like alcohol, drugs, paid sex or gambling, the mob fills in. Likewise, when the state fails to protect or keeps out unwanted elements. Before the Philly mob was laid low, heroin and black crimes were largely absent from South Philly.

In a healthy, prosperous society, the mob is parasitical and another layer of oppression. In a dysfunctional one, the mob isn’t just unavoidable, but essential.

Dom, “This guy screwed someone’s teenage daughter, so he was found dead, with his dick stuffed in his mouth. That’s how it was done.”

A good buddy of Skinny Razor was Frank “Blinky” Palermo, the famous fight fixer. Dom still remembers how Blinky joked with him, “Hey kid, you want to be the next middleweight champion of the world?” Working behind the scene, the mob could deform reality and mislead the masses, just like the government.

The DC, Wall Street and Hollywood gang has been fixing elections, stock markets, unemployment and inflation figures, daily news and history books, all aspects of our clueless lives, in short. We exist in a staggering unreality conjured up by the biggest and bloodiest mob in world history.

Linh Dinh’s Postcards from the End of America has just been released by Seven Stories Press. He maintains an active photo blog.

• Category: Economics • Tags: Crime 
Linh Dinh
About Linh Dinh

Born in Vietnam in 1963, Linh Dinh came to the US in 1975, and has also lived in Italy and England. He is the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). He has been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, among other places. He is also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013), and translator of Night, Fish and Charlie Parker, the poetry of Phan Nhien Hao (2006). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. His writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and he has been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Reykjavik, Toronto and all over the US, and has also published widely in Vietnamese.