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Obscured American: Tony the Cook
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When I lived closer to Center City, I’d take out-of-town friends to McGlinchey’s or Dirty Frank’s, but since moving to South Philly more than a decade ago, I’d drag people to the Friendly Lounge, because it really is friendly. In Philly, black bars tend to be called “lounge,” but Friendly is the haunt of middle-aged white guys, mostly, though there’s Chinese George and myself, and Vern, a black Vietnam vet, as well as a few others of various shades. A Dominican lady, Maria, advised me to abstain from eggs, cantaloupe and papaya after sundown. An admirer of Rafael Trujillo, she loved the fact that he had people’s fingers chopped off, or their nails yanked out. “I hate criminals. I like law and order.”

Mexican guys like to get trashed at the Korean-owned beer joint down the street. With so many men and no women, fights often erupt, so it’s nicknamed Stab and Grab. These tussles are mostly about staring, shouting, pushing or flailing, however. Months can go by before you’ll see a half decent right cross. No one has been killed. Neon-lit, and with tables instead of stools, it attracts few Americans. There was a morose Vietnamese homeless guy who would sit in there by himself, but he died recently, probably from a bruised soul.

Suddenly, I’m no longer in Leipzig, Germany, but South Philly. To ground myself, I’ve been going to Friendly, mostly to chat with Don, the co-owner and daytime bartender. Whenever someone mentions a distant place, Don would remind us he’s been to Montana for a wedding. Sixty-seven-years-old, Don’s spent his entire life in the Philadelphia area. Born in Camden, he now lives in Oaklyn.

Terrence at the Friendly Lounge, South Philly

Terrence at the Friendly Lounge, South Philly

So huge, the United States is hard to get out of. Airport worker Brent, though, has been all over, and so has George, a self-made millionaire. Retired building contractor Don went to Mongolia to shoot argalis. He ended up chewing on a raw testicle, “I got sick that day and all of the next day. Oh man, it was terrible!” Art and music teacher Terrence has been to Europe. His favorite destination, though, is Colorado. He’s there skiing right now. Only hours ago, we were admiring a photo he emailed back.

OK, enough of my babbling. I want y’all to meet a Friendly Lounge regular, and to hear him talk at length about his life, for no life is uninteresting. I had a similar approach with “An American in Brighton” and “Don Hensley in Huntingburg, Indiana,” but Tony is my neighbor, and just about each afternoon, you’ll find him at the far end of the bar in Friendly. By evening, he might drag his scrawny ass to The Dive, a block and a half away. Fifty-five-years-old, Tony is a cook in an Italian restaurant. There are always five guys in the kitchen, but no matter the shift, Tony is the only white dude. Everybody else is Mexican.

I have fun with them. They make me laugh, but sometimes they make me mad, because they do things I’d never do. I have to step back and realize, it’s their culture. I can’t get really mad.

They put peppers on everything. They put so much peppers on an expensive piece of meat or fish, you can’t taste it, so I’d say, “Why don’t you guys just eat peppers. It’d be cheaper. Why mess up the fish?”

We have about fifty employees, and about half of them are Mexicans. There are no Mexican bartenders, no Mexican servers because your language has to be good, your English has to be good.

I’m the only Caucasian in the kitchen, and they’re trying to recruit me. They want me to be Mexican. They’re teaching me Spanish. I’d say, “You need to be working on your English, not me on my Spanish. If we were in Spain, I’d be struggling to speak Spanish. I’d be embarrassed not being able to speak it.”

Each day, I learn a few more words of Spanish.

Some of the guys are learning English. Some refuse. They insist that this will be the new Mexico. They’re going to change me, and I don’t want to change.

The head chef is Mexican, and he’s very articulate, his English is good. Although it’s not his culture, he cares. Same with the sous chef.

Basically, they leave the Mexicans to their own devices, because they’re good at what they do. They’ll get together, they’ll come up with a plan and it works. Don’t try to understand it, don’t try to change it, just let it go.

The Mexicans would come to me and have me act as a liaison to management. You need a really good English speaker to communicate with management, which is white. That doesn’t mean I can’t be replaced. There are other guys out there who can do that, and you don’t even have to be white. Your English just has to be good, and you must know the culture. South Philly, you know, the mentality.

I’ve worked in restaurants for thirty years, but here for just over three. They pay me pretty good. They take care of me. I get 13 an hour, under the table. I work 50 hours a week.

The Mexicans make much less. That’s why they’re hired. The Mexicans make around minimum wage, and they’re grateful for it.

Eight bucks is nothing, considering how much that restaurant makes. They can afford to pay more, but they don’t. By the same token, they do that because they can. In the Bible, they would call that usury. That’s right, it’s usury… using people.

ORDER IT NOW

The illegal Mexicans need to become legal. No free rides. This way, they’re not paying taxes, and they’re not able to be drafted. If you remember back in World War II, there was a thing called the zoot suit riot. Remember that? Illegal immigrants back then turned a blind eye to the war effort. The government said we need your help, and they refused. Because they wore these zoot suits, soldiers on leave would beat them up. That’s the zoot suit riot.

Nowadays, it’s the same thing, and I don’t want to be a Donald Trump guy, but if you gonna come here, you’ve got to learn the language, and insist that your children speak English in public. It’s our common language, not Spanish.

When in Rome, do what the Romans do. I resent the fact that they want to change my culture.

You’ve got to do what the Italians did, what the Irish did, you’ve got to fit in. Otherwise, why would you be here? If you don’t want to be an American, and act like an American, why would you come here?

I think they hold us in contempt, because they think it’s their country still, and it was. A lot of it was. Plus, they’re Native Americans.

In my line of work, you have to be strong, in your mind, to take the pressure. It’s the number one industry for heart attack. Over all these different jobs… number one. I’ve seen people leave the restaurant crying, stalking off. It just happened two weeks ago. The owner’s son walked off the job. It was because the other guys were picking on him. He wasn’t able to keep up with us.

When the owner’s there, she can protect him, but when she’s not there, he’s just one of the guys. We refused to give him that royal status. Although his mother is good at what she does, he’s not. He has a long way to go.

That’s something you never do. You don’t walk off your shift, period. I understand you’re unhappy. We’ll talk about it at the end of the night. You can’t look over and need some lettuce, and the guy’s not there! It’s like going to war.

It’s the only restaurant he has ever worked in. He’s in Vermont now, with his family. He’s finding himself. He’s a boy in a man’s body. He’s 24.

He didn’t care about his coworkers. That’s what I find hard to forget. He let us down, man. He’s like a deserter.

Restaurant work is physically and mentally exhausting. Some mornings, I’m like, “Man, do I have to go back there and start all over?” But it’s not like they’re going to kill me, I don’t think. You just do it and they pay you.

You may be able to handle the stress, but two years down the line, there may be someone you just can’t stand, so you may have to get another job. It’s like in the military, you may have to request a transfer to another company, because there are a couple of guys who are always giving you a hard time, for no reason. They don’t like you.

I was stationed in Twentynine Palms, in the desert. I was married, had a daughter. Being in that desert made me realize why Arabs and Jews are always so pissed off! Newsbreak! There’s grass everywhere else!

I enlisted right out of FrankfortHigh School.

It was a third black, a third white and a third Hispanic, and everyday, there were fights. I was just this scrawny son of a preacher, but I had to learn how to fight. I was tired of getting beaten up.

In junior high, a black kid hit one of the teachers with an oak chair, knocked him out. He was pissed because he had failed a test. They had to bring in an ambulance, take the old guy out in a stretcher.

In 12th grade, I got my first job as a dishwasher at the Holiday Inn. Seeing that I was a pretty good worker, the head chef soon turned me into a cook.

“Will I get paid more?” I asked him. “Sure,” he said, “and you’ll get to eat all of these shrimp for free too.” I was always hungry so I said yeah. It was weird at first because all of these people were screaming at each other all the time, there was so much stress, but at the end of the day, it was all forgotten.

We would drink a punch made of brandy, Coke and oranges, cut into halves, and we would also do coke. We could only do this after the chef had gone home. The sous chef was cool. At the end of the day, we also threw hot, stuffed tomatoes at each other.

I was in the marines for six years. After that, I got a job as a manager at Jack in the Box, which I didn’t like. I like to cook.

I enjoy cooking. I think it’s an art. Sometimes you can see the customers eat your food. Especially with the very old and the very young, and they have that smile, I like that.

Another reason I like it is, if you look at the expression, “food and drink,” food is always first. “Food and entertainment,” “food and shelter,” food is always first. You can get by without shelter, but you can’t get by without food. Food is number one.

I’m around seafood all the time, but I can’t really afford to eat from there, but the other night, I splurged on myself and bought three pounds of shrimp. I just sat in front the TV and kept eating… over two or three hours. Instead of popcorn, I was eating shrimp. It was good.

I live with my sister. It’s $600 a month, and I pay half, but sometimes I must give her more, because she’s doing so bad.

I come to the Friendly a lot because it’s like my living room. I don’t have that much space.

My sister is never in the bar, because she’s bipolar. She drinks at home, and smokes a lot of weed. It calms her down. She has to have that. I smoke weed too, but not everyday.

I’ve been living with her for six years. She needed help to pay the rent. Her boyfriend left. It’s expensive here.

She works in a restaurant too. She’s a server. We don’t say waitress anymore. Server.

ORDER IT NOW

Her job is really getting to her. She fights with her boss all the time. She’s been there so long, she feels she can fight with him, but she doesn’t realize that… you lose. I mean, you’re not gonna win. Because she has a bad attitude, and shows up late, everyday, they give her a bad section that nobody wants to sit in, so now she makes even less money and hates her job even more. She’s only fifty, so retirement is more than ten years away. This is the time to work as hard as you can, because you know what you’re doing, and you still have your health, but she doesn’t get it. She feels like she should be able to retire right now.

She spends all her money on weed, and she smokes the good weed, not the cheap weed. She smokes about a hundred dollars’ worth of it a week. That’s like a car payment, with insurance, then there’s the wine, lots of wine.

She doesn’t have children. She wouldn’t be good with children. She wants kids, but it’s easy to want them if you don’t have them.

I’ve been married twice, for 11 years altogether. I’m not good at that. I tried.

I have no problem saying no, you can’t control me, there’s a limit. I love you, but you can’t have my freedom, and I don’t mean the freedom to have sex with other women, but I don’t need a list of things that I must do, with all my free time, after work. For me to do this, do that, I must get paid. Otherwise, you’re like a slave owner. I’m only willing to do so much for pussy, and I’m independent enough that I don’t need company.

My second wife tackled my mother, slammed her against the wall, and the old lady was 65 at the time. I had to grab her hair. I was ready to hit her when my dad said, “No, you don’t do that.” Another time, she stabbed me with a butterfly knife. Look at these scars.

One time, I threw out my knee doing construction work, but I managed to drive, using my right foot for both the gas and the brake. When I got home, I couldn’t stand, it was that bad. I was literally crawling on my belly up the stairs when my wife came out. She wouldn’t help me. She said, “So it looks like you’re going to miss a week of work, huh?” Then she went back inside.

I’m not looking to get married. I’d get married, but I’m not one of those guys who have to be with somebody. I do think that’s the way life should be, with a man, a woman and children. I think that’s optimized. That’s the way it’s made, the way it should be. Children need a mother and a father to be brought up right.

I do have a daughter. She’s thirty-four. Full-grown. We had a bad falling out. I was in the military. I understand. I was never there. I was always up in the desert, training. I haven’t seen her in, ah, twenty years. I basically try not to think about that. It’s very painful, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Her mother turned her against me. I was an asshole.

I tried to call her. Years ago. If she decides one day to contact me, I’ll answer and I’ll meet her.

I’ve been with a lot of women. I love women. I’ve been with 138, and I’m working on 139. Any day now. I ain’t dead yet.

I love women, but let’s say you have sex with a woman, and she decides to stay over, and you realize she’s not leaving. OK, so you have to either pay rent, or you’ve got to be cooking and cleaning. It’s one or the other.

You give her an orgasm, and she may not leave.

I don’t care if you fall asleep next to me, but in the morning, I’ve got to go to work, and you can’t stay here while I’m gone.

Unless… I get up and you make me some coffee and say you’re going to do my laundry, or you’re going to clean something or fix something, but you can’t just be hanging around to eat all my food, drink all my booze, use all the towels up and leave them lying around so there’s nothing for me to use after work. No!

Here’s a joke for you. You know why I like to sleep with homeless women? Afterwards, you can drop them off anywhere!

I had a girlfriend once. I was a bartender, and one night she came in all beat up and bloody. Pretty Scottish girl. She wanted a drink, so I said, “It looks like you’ve lost a lot of blood, and you’re half drunk already. I’ll tell you what I’ll do for you if you really want a drink. Go back in my apartment, take a shower, go into my closet and grab a clean shirt, then come back and we’ll see.” Well, she appreciated that very much and fell in love with me. We didn’t have sex or anything. Years went by before we hooked up.

I can amuse myself. I can read. I can paint. I love music.

I’m off today. It’s my first day off in six weeks. Last night felt so great because I knew tomorrow, I wouldn’t have to worry about it for 24 hours. I could actually let myself go into solid, deep sleep. It’s like a mini vacation.

Normally, I drink a Jagermeister before bed. You come home and you’re all wired up, but you know you must go to sleep like right away, because you’ll have to get up again, so you need something to calm you down. It’s not good.

Later, I’m going home and paint. I’ve been doing seascapes, underwater seascapes. I’ve never been deep sea, no, but from watching TV programs and looking at photographs, I’ve done a bit of research. Sometimes I bend it a little bit, make it more abstract.
I use oil, acrylic, pastel, anything. I know the smell of turpentine is bad for you, but I like it.

I’m fascinated by the sea, always have been, but I can’t live next to the ocean, because it costs money.

ORDER IT NOW

The cooking, the painting, all the good stuff… to me, that’s life! I can’t be going, “Oh, poor me, I’ve got to go to work, it hurts so much,” and believe me, when you get older like me, your body hurts, but you go anyway, and once you get there, you realize, that’s funny, I’m glad I got up.

An hour into work, the pain is gone and you’re running, you’re moving and it’s sunny outside, so you think, OK, at least I’m doing something right.

The last guy I voted for was Reagan. I don’t know if I’m gonna vote this time. I don’t really like any of them. I believe the President should be a veteran. Before you send kids into war, you should know what it’s like.

The ultimate sign of love for this country is to put your ass on the line for it. Not to be confused with being drafted, which is forced enlistment.

I think our biggest problem is the economy, and the family unit has gone to shit. You used to be able to beat your kids. If I wasn’t afraid of my father growing up, I wouldn’t have listened to my mother. I was just a bad kid. My father would hit me in the face, but not with a closed hand. You know what, I learnt. Respect your mother.

For your dad to hit you, and for it to be effective, he has to be respectable. He has to be able to say, “This is why you’re getting it. You have to do what I do. That way, I won’t have to do this any more. Follow what I do. I get up every morning, I go to work, I stop at the bar after work, I come home and there’s dinner on the table. This is the good life, kid.”

They don’t want that. Kids don’t want that any more.

I’m getting a new place. I’ll have this basement to myself, and it’s only $300, with everything included, all the bills. It’s unheard of.

I might take a vacation, which I haven’t done in ten years. I like to fish. I’ll go fishing, but at this point, I don’t care if I catch any fish. I’ll cast a bare hook out there, sit there, watch the birds and just relax.

I can’t think too far ahead. I’m the kind of guy who will work until the day I die.

 

Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a novel, Love Like Hate. He’s tracking our deteriorating socialscape through his frequently updated photo blog, Postcards from the End of America.

 
• Category: Culture/Society • Tags: Obscured American, Poverty 
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  1. “You give her an orgasm, and she may not leave”

    Must be why some folk are so in love with the Germans ;o)

    http://ronaldthomaswest.com/2016/03/09/march-of-the-tickle-dicks/

    Hey Dinh, you bailed out of Leipzig pretty fast…

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  2. Randal says:

    Some of the guys are learning English. Some refuse. They insist that this will be the new Mexico. They’re going to change me, and I don’t want to change.

    Welcome to the future of the southern US.

    Unless perhaps the American Spring kicked off by Trump’s candidacy succeeds in reviving Americans’ national self respect.

  3. Rehmat says:

    You both need to learn American history from some objective source. The 99% of people living in the United States are either immigrants or descendants of the European robbers and murderers who occupied this land and killed over five million of its original natives.

    Mexicans too had been victims of US invasions. Idiots like Donald Trump even believe that Bushes should had invaded Mexico instead of Iraq. Trump called Mexican “rapists” while ignoring his own association with Jewish billionaire and convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

    https://rehmat1.com/2016/03/07/donald-trump-a-judas-goat/

  4. That could be Stella’s in the Ukrainian Village in Chicago.

  5. Marcus says:
    @Rehmat

    The 99% of people living in the United States are either immigrants or descendants of the European robbers and murderers who occupied this land and killed over five million of its original natives.

    If only….

  6. My favorite part is how he is paid under the table but complains that Mexicans should be legal so they can pay taxes

  7. AG says:

    You are fantastic story teller. Your style of writing will be great in fictions.

    • Replies: @Anonymouse
  8. @Rehmat

    The highest estimate I’ve seen for the native population of North America pre-Columbus was 18 million. Let’s ignore those parts of North America that are in Canada and assume that definition excludes Mexico [I expect it does- including present-day Mexico would incorporate much more populous native civilizations].

    Where do you get the settlers of the present-day US killing 5 million native Americans? Even over a period of centuries.

    I am going to charitably assume that you weren’t giving a figure for the whole hemisphere, since that would be to implicate America for all those killed by the Spanish and white-Mexicans, groups that have contributed to the gene pool of the Mexican illegals under discussion. And that you weren’t including smallpox deaths and such, which ran far ahead of settlement and were hardly deliberate actions.

    Also worth noting that the partly or wholly aboriginal Mexican whose ancestors lived 2000 years in someplace like Oaxaca doesn’t exactly have an aboriginal claim on any land in the SW USA. Maybe if he belonged to one of the tribes driven south by the Navajo invasions.

    Oh, wait, all aboriginal Americans are one nation and have equal claim on everything and they all arrived at exactly the same time, settled in one piece of ground, never left, never fought over any of it, and had no history at all in their edenic paradise.

    • Replies: @Rehmat
  9. @granesperanzablanco

    The cynicism of everyday life, to be sure. Or the privilege of being a citizen who legally has a share in the country. Or both. Also, apparently he did volunteer military service. Those things don’t cancel out the tax evasion, but they are mitigating factors.

  10. This is the best column I have read yet from Linh Dinh, even if most of it is quotes. It does the best job so far of illustrating this point:

    “I want y’all to meet a Friendly Lounge regular, and to hear him talk at length about his life, for no life is uninteresting.”

    That guy is interesting. His life doesn’t look like my life [I would not likely have made it as far as he has if it did] but I come away have maybe learned some things.

    • Replies: @5371
  11. 5371 says:
    @random observer

    The thing is, it would have been boring to sit through in conversation, but Linh Dinh makes it interesting. He knows what he’s doing.

    • Replies: @Clyde
    , @random observer
  12. This the life George W. Bush should have led, painting and all.

  13. Ace says:
    @Rehmat

    *** European robbers and murderers ***

    Give it a rest, man.

  14. Anonymous [AKA "Bob who~grew up with such"] says:
    @granesperanzablanco

    I am shocked, shocked to find anyone of questionable moral judgement in such a place. You are aware Lihn is the chronicler of the denizens of dive bars?

    • Agree: Seamus Padraig
  15. Sherman says:
    @Rehmat

    Hey Homer

    Speaking of goats how’s your goat/boyfriend doing?

    Sherm

    • Replies: @Marcus
    , @marwan
  16. Shill7 says:
    @Rehmat

    Solid deranged spittle-flecked rant. Unhinged, even. 6.5/10

  17. Ken says:
    @Rehmat

    “Rape, murder, arson, rape.”

    “You said rape twice.”

    “I like rape.”

  18. Marcus says:
    @Sherman

    Rehmat is a testament to the dysgenic effects of generations of Muslim inbreeding.

    • Replies: @Sherman
  19. Anonymouse says: • Website
    @AG

    I agree. As good as John Dos Passos or better.

  20. marwan says:
    @Sherman

    gee whiz Sherman , how culturally insensitive of you . arabs and iranians have sex with goats . pakis and ghannis like remhat have (non consentual )sex with their bacha bazi . get your facts straight.

  21. Wally says: • Website
    @Rehmat

    You said:
    “… who occupied this land and killed over five million of its original natives”

    Where is your proof for that number?

    Bring it, don’t just say it.

    And no, just quoting some goy hating Jew will not do.

    Mexicans have actually benefited from the “US invasion”. Just take a look at the third world toilet that is Mexico.

    And besides, it was really the Spaniards who lost Mexico not “Mexicans”. Learn some real history.
    Have a look at the Mexican Congress, almost all Spaniards, where are the Indians & mestizos?

    Hispanic crime rates in the US, when not hidden by cultural Marxists, do not lie. Get over it.

  22. Clyde says:
    @5371

    The thing is, it would have been boring to sit through in conversation, but Linh Dinh makes it interesting. He knows what he’s doing.

    I liked reading this in a few minutes. But to hear it in person and sit through this semi-drunk accounting in real time would be insufferable.

  23. DaveE says:
    @Rehmat

    If they “genocided” the “Indians”, they did it before Lewis and Clark came to town because somehow, neither one noticed any “Indians” once they left St. Louis.

    • Replies: @utu
  24. Sherman says:
    @Marcus

    Agreed. His family tree is probably a straight line.

    • Replies: @Rehmat
  25. utu says:
    @DaveE

    Actually you are wrong. Lewis and Clark had many encounters with Indians. Some friendly and some not so friendly. They did some trading with Indians. When on Columbia river they traded salmon they were already bored with for dog meat.

  26. Rehmat says:
    @random observer

    I believe you missed a zero – Afro-American history scholars believes the native population of Americana was between 100 to 180 million.

    I wouldn’t blame you for your ignorance because the great majority western White folks still believe the lie that Christopher Columbus discovered Americana. If that was not enough, Charles Garcia claims that Columbus did not sail to find a shortest route to India but to “liberate Jerusalem” from Muslims.

    On May 24, 2012, Charles Garcia, Jewish CEO of Garcia Trujillo, in a CNN Op-Ed claimed that Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón in Spanish) was a secret Jew whose 1492 voyage was funded by a couple of rich Jews and not by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella as the Christian historian want the world to believe.

    Now watch your tongue. If you deny Garcia Trujillo’s claim – Sen. Ted Cruz is going to call you an ‘antisemite’.

    https://rehmat1.com/2014/10/15/columbus-sailed-to-liberate-jerusalem-from-muslims/

    • Replies: @random observer
  27. Rehmat says:
    @Sherman

    Hi Sharon – in your Jewish brother at ‘Blazing Fur Cat’ not long ago had a headline “Rehmat Converted to Judaism, You Should Too”.

    So, you can call me ‘self-hating Jew’ like Israel-born Glad Atzmon.

    https://rehmat1.com/2010/02/25/gilad-atzmon-proud-to-be-a-self-hating-jew/

  28. DaveE says:

    Yeah OK, I exaggerated a little. They BOTH commented in their diaries how surprised they were to have met so very few natives for nearly the entire trip. They traveled by river, too, where the population would have been most dense.

  29. “Some of the guys are learning English. Some refuse”

    that’s because to some Mexicans “English is the language of the dogs”

    and apparently they are happy that they and their kids will be nothing more than cooks.

    • Replies: @granesperanzablanco
  30. Michelle says:

    An ex boyfriend of mine quit working as a bartender at a Mexican restaurant because he could not stand the way the Mexican cooks sexually harassed the Mexican male waiters and busboys. I dated a Mexican waiter and asked him about that. He told me that his ass was bruised every night from the cooks pinching it and demanding sex from him. Dirty little secret from the immigrant chronicles!

  31. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Pos American murderer.

  32. @interesting

    who are you quoting? I’ve never heard a Mexican say that and grew up around a lot

  33. @Rehmat

    “The 99% of people living in the United States are either immigrants or descendants of the European robbers and murderers who occupied this land and killed over five million of its original natives. Mexicans too had been victims of US invasions…”

    Why 99% rather than 100%? Are you excluding the descendants of those who immigrated over the land bridge between Asia and North America during the last ice age? In any case, how is any of this relevant to the question of whether Trump constitutes an attractive political option?

    I agree that Epstein is a disgusting creature, but getting all purist about Trump isn’t going to achieve anything. Trump is what he is, which is, among other things, a threat to the system. Yes, he could be co-opted, and his past is what you would expect from a “deal maker.” But who, just for the record, is your realistic alternative choice for this high office?

  34. “I believe the President should be a veteran. Before you send kids into war, you should know what it’s like.”

    Been saying that for a long time. Neither Obama nor any of the current crop of candidates for the office of Commander-In-Chief has ever heard or seen a shot fired in anger. In any event, good article. And indeed, no life is uninteresting. “Seven million people in the naked city. And every one of ’em has a story to tell.”

  35. @5371

    Fair enough- it probably would have been slow and rambly. The result does show off Linh Dinh’s journalism skill.

  36. @Rehmat

    That’s why I assumed the 18 million figure was for North America, a region of the hemisphere which would logically have been relatively less populated, since its inhabitants had not moved as far into high-level agriculture and town/city civilization as MesoAmerica and parts of South America had done by the late BCE period.

    If you’ve got support for Olmec style civilization north of the Rio Grande much before the past millennium/millennium plus a couple centuries, I’ll need to see that. I’m not immediately aware of any North American cultures that preceded or exceeded those of the Pueblo cultures of the southwest or the Mississippian/Moundbuilder cultures and their heirs. These practiced what I have been led to believe were the most advanced agrarian/settlement-building/chiefly-polity Amerindian civilizations north of Mexico, and they had a much more recent start than the cultures of Mexico had done. And I have not seen claims for them having populations in the scores, let alone 100 of millions.

    My only point in separating North America thus was, I think clearly, to note that the United States and its predecessor colonies are responsible only for direct killings within its borders, not for the killing done by Spain or Portugal to the south. And that when claims are made on behalf of Hispanic migrants today, their claims need to be segregated from killings by the US or pre-US, because as Hispanic migrants they are

    1. In part the heirs of the Spanish, who were larger-scale Indian killers and had more Indians to kill than the English settlers ever did

    2. In part the heirs of aboriginal peoples from the South whose claims of murder and dispossession are against the Spanish, not the English/Americans, and who also have no aboriginal, pre-Columbian or even pre-18c claims on territories within modern US borders. The heirs of the Olmecs have no claim on Arizona.

    [The heirs of the Aztecs might, since their legends have them coming south in the dim past; but then that makes them invaders and not truly aboriginal in the valley of Mexico, to which they should then have to give up claim…; and when I say not truly aboriginal, I mean that they arrived in quite recent historical times and would have had to take it from someone else]

    Not sure what you mean about Columbus. I am aware of the fact that the hemisphere was inhabited already. It was “discovered” from the point of view of the civilization which now mainly inhabits it and under which cultural umbrella it has been organized these past 500 years. The fact that it was inhabited by humans who had come from Asia millennia earlier has never been denied by the use of the word “discovery”. It just means that’s when OUR civilization discovered it. That is to say, the civilization that had ships capable of crossing the ocean and the wherewithal and technology to set up agriculture capable of supporting ever increasing settler populations in mere centuries. As opposed to benefiting from a land bridge and probably not even being aware that it was a new continent, and then hanging around for 10,000 years. The native civilizations of the centre and south, particularly with their accomplishments in the abstract fields of math and astronomy [and astrology just as bogus as Babylon’s to be sure] demonstrated the likely maximum possible accomplishments of Neolithic civilization. But in pretty well everything of use the Old World leaped ahead from the second millennium or so BC and never looked back. If they had advanced as far in shipbuilding so as to get there, Rome could probably have taken out the MesoAmericans just as well as Spain. Or for another example, new world pyramids are at least as impressive as Egypt’s. But by then the Old World leading cultures had moved on to arches, domes, and the like instead. More aesthetic and usually with more useful space than big pointy piles of stone. Not necessarily ideal as a base for one’s heart-eating ceremonies, but architecturally more sophisticated.

    Or maybe you just mean that the Vikings had been to North America first. True, but they didn’t seem to capitalize on or publicize the discovery, so if it influenced Columbus at all it was most likely through the rumour chain. Valid, but I think Columbus should still get credit for making the discovery stick. Also, if that was your point, I should note that the Vikings were just the whitest white people to ever be white.

    Alternatively, if it were to be proved that a Chinese ship made it to the Americas first, bully for them. I have no beef with the Asians or their accomplishments. They plainly neglected to make or substantiate a claim of possession, so sucks to be them. Besides, back then they hadn’t finished colonizing inner Asia. Depending on how early, they were even still colonizing south China.

    I couldn’t possibly care less what Ted Cruz has to say on any subject and was not previously aware of what a “Garcia Trujillo” might be. I assumed some sort of heir to the Dominican dictator [or a brand of rum]. That would be a man who might be worthy of respect and I would not wish to be visited by his private gun squad, but I wouldn’t see any reason to take his opinion of early modern history at face value.

    Of course, if Columbus was a secret Jew engaged in an elaborate plot to free old Jerusalem, or set up a new Jerusalem, or a Christian Templar seeking to hide the grail or build a new grail kingdom in the new world, or any of that sort of theory, well, I guess that didn’t work out. Still discovered a new hemisphere.

    • Replies: @Numinous
  37. This guy reminds me of a lot of the slightly older guys (born in the early 1960s, for the most part; I was born in 1970), that I often hung out with in the 1980s. You’d be hard-pressed to find many like them in that area anymore, but apparently they’re still hanging on in other parts of the country.

  38. notsaying says:

    I love Linh Dinh’s writing.

    He has made this man Tony, with all his mixed-up and contradictory feelings and demands, come alive.

  39. Numinous says:
    @random observer

    I have no beef with the Asians or their accomplishments. They plainly neglected to make or substantiate a claim of possession, so sucks to be them.

    So if you are upset with the recent waves of Asian immigration to your country since the 1965 Immigration Act, it just sucks to be you, doesn’t it? Especially if your opinion is a minority one.

    • Replies: @Hacienda
  40. Agent76 says:

    March 01, 2016 The Two-Party Illusion

    “There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil.” – John Adams

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article44340.htm

  41. Hacienda says:
    @Numinous

    I’m Mongoloid. I declare the Americas to be the natural possessions of the Mongoloid race and its great off shoot the Red Men and Women.

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