Monthly Archives: November 2012

“Black Friday” Human sacrifice are good deals to the gods

Another Black Friday passed. The first thing I did after the rush was Google search “Black Friday Death.” It happens every year, so this one shouldn’t be any different. In some ways, it’s the American counterpart to Spain’s running with the bulls. Injuries and death are acceptable outcomes in both occasions. Last year, a full-grown, 270-pound man was trampled to death when a crowd of Wal-Mart shoppers smashed through the glass doors. There was also an incident where two men squared off in a gun duel at a Toys-R-Us; both men were murdered. This year, a woman was killed when her SUV collided with a cop cruiser on her way to do her Black Friday shopping.

Are these senseless deaths? I don’t think so. Everyone killed on Black Friday is not a freak accident, but rather, a blood sacrifice to the gods. These gods, which feed our insatiable appetite for all things consumable, are a mysterious power whose inner working is beyond the compression of even the wisest men. The captains of industry and CEO’s can only speculate and pose as if they are in total control. Their collective failure is reflected in the government bailout of billions of American tax dollars. Money we put into a collective pool to benefit our society, if it were only so! The money is gone. Oh, the irony in banks robbing banks.  And yet, the money is running out for everyone as if it’s disappearing into the blue sky.

That’s my point exactly.

By now everything has become obvious enough. We are a collection of nations that have coerced the world into offering everything it has to this glutenous god. No, I’m not talking about the Christian god Jesus Christ. All major gods act as a spokesperson which stands in front of the true forces we unconsciously worship. This ultimately mysterious being is much like us; it has a never-filling hunger. Through us, it will devour Earth itself, and if possible, the universe too. Between humanity and this god there is a reciprocal relationship of everlasting consumption. It feeds us, and by doing so we are better able to feed it. Despite how many people will deny it, Black Friday is a sacrificial celebration to gods of divine hunger. The deaths I was referring to earlier are human sacrifices.

Take a look at the wars all over the world. The root cause in every major military conflict is economics. All that talk about god and country is nothing but an easily-grasped facade for the masses. Their deaths are also offering, nothing is wasted. Economics is another just another name for the system by which we feed the world, people and all, to the secret hungry god that is able to devour the universe. It is amazing that we managed to create an “eater of everything.”

On behalf of all the cult members who participated on Black Friday, Happy Birthday!

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Bangkok Express is a bloody good ride

Indie pulp writer James A. Newman gives us a guided tour into the criminal underground of Bangkok, Thailand in Bangkok Express. It’s a tropical pulp fiction with an international cast of characters caught in a spider web of corruption–with coldblooded murder for cash at the center. Newman’s depiction of Bangkok makes the city come alive in all its beautiful savagery. It is a strange place that is both burning with poverty and drowning with dirty money. There’s no such thing as corruption in Bangkok. You either swim with the sharks or get eaten by piranhas. No money means no mercy. Bangkok, baby, hope you’re ready.

The book opens up with one of the most uniquely depicted murder scenes I’ve ever read. Newman portrays the act of murder in a way that I can only refer to as a work of art. It’s a style in which panic, adrenaline, fear, and confusion exist in a vacuum. From the first chapter, I knew I was hooked on this savage tale. This book is definitely a fast-paced thriller, and the only time you ever get to relax is in some sleazy sex mall with Thai ladyboys offering a cheap walk on the wild side. Or perhaps you would care for a comfy couch and a little heroine? Fear in Loathing in Bangkok, why not? This book definitely has that Hunter Thompson “gonzo” quality.

I especially enjoyed the brand of characters that were caught up in the mix. Together they formed just the right formula for everything to go to hell in a hand basket. Put a couple million British pounds up for grabs, and let the backstabbing begin. In some ways, Bangkok Express is a bit of a demented comedy. There’s some character dialogue that really captures the essence of dark humor that pulp fiction is loved for. How Newman’s characters manage a good laugh with a gun shoved in their faces is commendable. Although the plot can get a little tricky with so many players off completing their piece of the puzzle, the story stays tight and never becomes messy (that is until somebody’s brain gets a bullet massage).

I’d recommend this book to all you crime lovers out there. All the sick minds that can appreciate murder with a little bit of irony sprinkled over it and a splash of tropical paradise. The book does push the cheese factor on a few occasions, but I guess things just have their own way of unfolding in Bangkok. Newman lives in Thailand; he’s seen (and done) some stuff that we can only guess. It’s that firsthand experience that gives Bangkok Express that genuine gritty authenticity. Sniff hard enough and you can suck in the smells of diesel fumes and fresh mangos, and have the pink glare of neon lights softly stinging your eyes. According to his bio on bangkokbooks.com, he’s currently working on another book while awaiting the apocalypse. Now that’s the kind of attitude that produces books worth reading.

James A. Newman

Bangkok Express can be found at bangkokbooks.com and amazon.com. His books are available in paperback and for e-format. He has also written other pulp works Bangkok City, Lizard City, and his short story collection Thailand After Dark.

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Colorado and Washington legalize marijuana with the world set to follow

 

Washington and Colorado legalized marijuana. It almost sounds too good to be true. Are we really finally getting away from the ridiculous pot laws based on “Reefer Madness” logic? Washington and Colorado did, and they did it with the vote. The federal government is throwing a hissy fit but it’s become increasingly obvious that criminalizing marijuana just doesn’t work and we don’t want government intruding our lives. To Obama I’d also like to remind him to think about how many pot smokers voted Democrat this year.

My question is, who’s next? What state will follow up in the domino effect for a 100% marijuana friendly United States of America? We all know that with these stressful times everyone could seriously use a little relaxation. Canada, who has already taken a more laid back approach towards cannabis, is sure to come along. With Canada and the US puffing away, Mexico and the rest of Latin America will throw in on the massive smoke out. After that, it’s only a matter of time till the rest of the world is puffing on a giant blunt of freedom.

 

I feel like John Lennon. Imagine a world where enjoying ganja is no longer a crime. Currently the world is drenched in legal alcohol, is it a coincidence that there is war and violence everywhere? A world that embraces cannabis may be fertile grounds for a new social revolution, not one of violence, but one that is open to the idea that violence and greed isn’t compatible with the progress of humanity. If the people can legalize herb, what else is within our reach?

The federal government has proven itself to be wasteful beyond all imagination, murderously deceitful, intrusive, corruptible by large campaign contributions, and holds money to be more important than its people. It’s just ugly. But we ordinary people must accept our share of the blame for the government’s sorry condition because we let it get that way. Washington and Colorado have shown that being actively involved in your government comes with its rewards too.

 

The youth disempowers itself by choosing not to participate. A lot of younger voters even feel that they are “fighting the system” by not voting. Their reasons for being angry are valid. But drinking beer while listening to rock music, is not a revolution. Anyone who thinks so only has to take a trip to WA or CO, and ask them what they think. This victories will be short lived unless we hold our ground against the federal government and tell them to, “Back off!

Seize the ballot! Occupy the polls! Our numbers are large but we don’t realize how powerful we could be if only we used the rules to our advantage. I admit that the vote is not a cure all solution but that’s because there is no cure all solution for the problems we face. Still, the vote is one of the most concrete legal ways to make your voice counted. If you already vote, then more power to you, and try to get more people to join. For everyone that’s on the fence about how effective voting is, I urge you look at how angry the federal government is these two states deciding for themselves how they want to live their lives. The government needs to realize we are not a nation of peasant children for them to play the father role over. Empower yourself by registering to vote, and do more if you can. Its your life, don’t give some strangers the authority to run it.

 

The Faithful Lover by Massimo Bontempelli cracks the mirror of reality

 

The Faithful Lover (1953) is a collection of short stories by Italian writer Massimo Bontempelli, the father of realismo magico (magical realism). This genre works as an evolved form of traditional French surrealism. Bontempelli has commented on the writing style by saying,

the real norm of the art of narration is to describe the dream as if it were reality, and the reality as if it were a dream.”

The stories begin with ordinary people and feel normal enough. Yet as the stories continue, Bontempelli starts twisting the screws until cracks appear in mechanism of reality. He uses this technique with varying degrees. At times the effect is full blown while in other stories it bubbles under the surface. Real life becomes infected with dream qualities, the results are strange and beautiful. For L’mante Fedele (The Faithful Lover), Bontempelli was awarded the “Strega Prize,” Italy’s highest recognition for literature.

The book has a wonderfully mysterious tone. Some stories are cloaked in darkness while other will stand in broad daylight. No matter what setting Bontempelli chooses, his stories never become murky or lose their intended effect. The book itself is short, and thus the stories come at you in quick bursts like flying embers. Immediately the reader is ushered into the story. By the first paragraph, Bontempelli has drawn you into his imagination. All the while, one never gets the feeling of being rushed. Things happen in a plausible manner and so we go along without question. The magic of his writing permeates the mind like a fast acting drug whose affects are wonderful.

Readers that are fans of the magical realism genre are most likely attracted to works by Haruki Murakami and Toni Morrison. Writers such as these present magical realism in very modern way. Bontempelli’s style by comparison does read with a noticeably older prose. I personally tend to avoid works that sound outdated. The Faithful Lover reads a little “old school” but the literary devices at work are surprisingly cutting edge. This hybrid style of “old and new” is diatomic as King Arthur’s knights lost on Mars. The sense of tragic humor helps to keep things light.

The Faithful Lover is a book that had attained great prestige, yet, as years gone by, has become unknown to a new generation of readers. It is a work that is worthy of rediscovery.  I enjoyed every story in The Faithful Lover. There wasn’t a single one I can point to and say it was lacking. Give this book a try, tear through the mundane, and experience another world that runs parallel to our own.

 

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“Buzz” by Robert Zverina. A stellar indie read.

I just finished reading Buzz, the debut novel by indie writer Robert Zverina. The cover depicting an old school ride cruising by the dark side of the moon told me I was in for something special. I dived into the book without the slightest idea what it was even about. “Robert Zverina? Never heard of him.” I simply picked him up and started reading.

Immediately I encountered a laid back and confident writing style that was easy to get into. The story is told from the first point perspective of Buzz, a first generation born American from a Czech political refuge immigrant family. He’s telling you his story that begins even before he’s born. And he’s telling you it in the genuine voice of a blue collar guy, who’s sort of a charismatic underachiever. You get the impression of catching up with an old friend you haven’t seen in too many years gone by. Family, friends, lovers, life, he’s spilling his nostalgic guts.

Buzz transitions from being a wide eyed kid to grown man gracefully. Zverina effectively portrays the psychological development as Buzz progresses in his life, not only the main character’s, but the people that pass through his life as well. Their quirks and habits are on full display which lets the reader figure out what makes them tick. These people are alive. It’s an event when they enter Buzz’s life, and it is a subtle tragedy when they leave.

Zverina describes Buzz’s coming from an immigrant family is realistic manner. I myself am from an immigrant family so I know what it’s like to grow up that way. The dynamics of having a culture gap in one household are there. The accents, conflicts, miscommunications, and real life culture clashes move in real time. Buzz’s storytelling takes us Czechoslovakia, so that we experience the paranoid lives of his family living through the Cold War era, and then brings us back to America as if you snapped out of a daydream. I absolutely enjoyed the deep level of introspection into Buzz’s memories.

Buzz isn’t a cut and dry “slice of life” work. There’s this strange fascination with the lunar landing that infuses Buzz with thin veneer of magical realism. This adds a subtle metaphysical dimension that hides within the shadows of the book. Outer space becomes a metaphor that is mysterious as our subconscious. I will not ruin this element sharing my thoughts on it, though I will say that the dark side of the moon is a lonely place.

Buzz is a story about life, culture, fragility, and seeking refuge wherever it can be found, even if it’s in a pint of vodka. This is the recipe for a satisfying read. Some of those scenes are so vivid I can still see them in my head. It’s like a hangover that can still make me laugh or feel alone whenever I think about what I read. For being Zverina’s first book, it was very good. Mind you, like all new writers, he does have room for literary development. But if Buzz in any indication of where he’s taking his writing, I’ll be definitely reading his next work.

Buzz is available through Amazon and smashwords.com

a review of “the happy birthday of death” by gregory corso. Beat poetry and the anarchy of language.

It was strange, I still don’t know exactly what to think of The Happy Birthday of Death (1960),  except that I enjoyed it greatly. At first Corso’s poems seemed like pure chaos. I picked up this book at a second hand store, it was the first time I had even heard of Gregory Corso (1930-2001). The words he used, and how he used them, barely held in relation to the others. Sometimes they appeared as if chosen at random. Perhaps they were. An anarchy of words! These odd combinations resulted in creations such as “pie glue” and “penguin dust.” In every poem there was a meaning that defied reason, even by the standards of poetry, but something was there that held it together. An amorphous purpose that can only be communicated in the funky style that Corso writes in.

His experimental style is so different from everything out there, that even the more open minded readers are in for a poetic curve ball. Corso celebrates the liberation of language and ideas. Most importantly, he has fun with poetry. Poetry is not some sacred tradition that’s has grown stale as an ancient vase in a museum. Corso has commented on the subject,

“How I love to probe life…. That’s what poetry is to me, a wondrous prober….It is not a meter or a measure of a line, a breath; not ‘law’ music; but the assembly of great eye sounds placed into an inspired measured idea.”

Breaking rules is what he does best. Corso’s beat poetry style bounces around the page shattering the glass castle of tradition. He has the soul of a jester philosopher. Poems such as “Marriage” are just a stone’s throw away from stand up comedy, while “Bomb” and “Police,” deal with the horror of war and societal repression. In the back of my head a nagging thought continually arose, “are you even allowed to do that?” The Happy Birthday of Death is a short read that packs a punch and is small enough to squeeze into your pocket. Put on your “fried shoes,” walk to your local bookstore, and tell the clerk, “Penguin dust, bring me penguin dust, I want penguin dust!”

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