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The Secret of Hurricanes
The Secret of Hurricanes
by Theresa Williams
Edition: Hardcover
25 used & new from $3.91

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forgiving the Sky, November 11, 2004
"What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it." That was Holden Caulfield in *The Catcher in the Rye* and that's exactly how I feel about The *Secret of Hurricanes.*

After reading the book, I wanted to call Theresa Williams up on the phone and ask her stuff and tell her stuff. It's not that the story itself is so very unusual - reminds me a little of *Them* by Joyce Carol Oates or with her clipped, terse sentences, Williams is somewhat like a female Hemmingway, but after reading this book, as well as a short story by Theresa Williams called "Blue Velvis" published in *The Sun Magazine*, I guarantee that you could hand me a pile of manuscripts, all by different unnamed authors, and after reading them, I could pick out hers as soon as I got to it. She's that unusual. I mean, as my 8th grade English teacher used to say, she has a "voice."

"I like to be able to reach out and feel life's edges," says Pearl, (the main character), and that's what this book does - plumbs the edges. The whole narrative is a dialogue with Pearl's unborn daughter (Pearl just KNOWS her child will be female).

The voice of Pearl Starling, is authentic and unique. Pearl would be dubbed "trailer trash" by many in our society and she knows it, but she doesn't let that kill her soul. She is, as Shakespeare mused, - "a lady more sinned against than sinning." Her narrative isn't a litany of sins against her, however; they're only noted. What she went through changed, shaped and informed her life - but that's all. She hasn't been snuffed out mentally, physically or emotionally. Her pregnancy at the age of 45 is a personal triumph and source of delight for her, and she especially relishes the unsatisfied curiosity of her neighbors as to the identity of the father of her child.

The Pentecostals tried to pry the info out of her in the guise of a witnessing call. Pearl had been involved with them when she was 16 and suddenly alone in the world but for an abusive father and a next-door neighbor, father of three daughters in her age range, who gave her guidance and attention when she needed it.

In Pearl's memory, a woman of the Pentecostals that she already knew, "...put her hand on my back, raised her other hand, tilted her face heavenward. The old man touched my shoulder and prayed in tongues, that obscure language. I stayed, let them beseach, but told myself, `After this, no more of this touching.' I felt no comfort in it. Just a vast emptiness. Like the daytime sky was inside me. Limitless. Blank. `Just leave me,' I was thinking. `Leave me to this vacancy'".

Talking to this unborn daughter, she tells her that "One night, not long ago, I dreamed about your birth. You were a red moon slipped out from some dark corner of the sky. A real piece of sky I could hold. It made me want to forgive the sky. For both its calm betrayal and for its frightful storms. My dream made me want to forgive the sky. A little. `That's right,' I said, `Drink it in. Your life. The air. Use your own mouth to tell the world what you want.' "

Why does she need to forgive the sky, you may wonder? Read the book and find out.


New Buffalo: Journals from a Taos Commune (Counterculture Series)
New Buffalo: Journals from a Taos Commune (Counterculture Series)
by Arthur Kopecky
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.70
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Threads of Gold, August 31, 2004
This book is unique. It is like nothing else you are likely to read. There are incidents, anecdotes, and life situations that have much in common with other chronicles of the times, most especially, *Scrapbook of a Taos Hippie* by Iris Keltz. Indeed, the latter work makes a splendid companion volume to this one because it mentions many of the same people, places and events of the time. Does it with engaging interviews and an overvoice that glues it all together.

Arthur Kopecky's faithful recording of life at the New Buffalo commune from 1971 to 1976, however, is unique in that it is a true journal with the energy and immediacy of real-time events.

The commune itself is the narrative voice. During the times when Kopecky left to visit other communes or to go hunting with other communards or to bring his own mother from New York, other people took up the journal and filled in the gaps of day-to-day existence on the scene. Sometimes they left their names, sometimes not. Sometimes they agreed with Arty (or An Swei as he called himself then), and sometimes they struck chords of dissent and argument. But it's all here.

Here you will find accounts of making adobe bricks to add on more rooms to the pueblo, accounts of their problems and successes with their many farm animals - cows, pigs, chickens, goats, mules - their craft activity to make money on the side - jewelry-making, candle-making, weaving, carpentry, bee-keeping, cooking, canning, drying, storing and harvesting their crops, stories of their wild parties with music and dancing, chronicles of the peyote meetings at and around Buffalo, accounts of cooperating with locals for their water rights for irrigation, their relationship with other communes in the area (Morningstar, Reality, Lama, Five Star) their struggles with taxes and with making New Buffalo a legal corporation (finally successful), diaries of their children and home birthing, their famous hospitality to so many visitors from all over this country and other countries, their problems with outdated machinery and vehicles. All this and still there are introspective passages about their lives, the war in Viet Nam, and their marriages, love affairs, births, and deaths.

Various entries speak for themselves of the life and flavor of New Buffalo.

"We got a refrigerator out of the dump for a smoke house. Pepe taught me to cut a hole in the bottom, connect with stovepipe to a covered fruit wood fire twelve feet away. This provides cold smoke for best taste."

"Larry started hooking up the new hot water tank to run off the wood cook stove. He worked all day on it. The thirty-gallon tank sits behind the firebox, the smoke goes where the insulation used to be, and a water pipe goes right in the fire and back out. If you were on a colony spaceship, you'd want this guy with you."

"Full moon. Wild party here started in the afternoon. Mick butchered five chickens. Jason from the Hog Farm helped do the cooking. We had cars, trucks, longhaired hippies, dark-skinned gypsies and big-chested, long-legged dancing girls getting it on in the front yard. Guitars, a banjo, three or four drums, a saxophone, a clarinet, and perhaps 80 people here. Fire in the courtyard at night. Joseph Cruz from the Pueblo came with Phil, Joe, Henry and Benjamin, all local Indians. They sing really fine. I went to bed early in the moonlight, under a cedar tree on the hill, listening to their ancient songs."

"Yesterday we stepped into a Van Gogh painting and cut the golden wheat field. Five sickles and two stackers worked much of the day. Incredibly beautiful. Also weeded and watered the cornfield. We have a pretty good harvest."

"County Fair tomorrow! Carol baked coffeecakes for the contest, and she's really got a chance to produce the best. Kim is bringing fresh carrots, beets, onions, yellow squash, and lettuce. He is already putting carrots away - colors so lush in the humid air - beautiful produce. John intends to enter cheese, butter and maybe some goats."

"This mudding we can do. Old way good way. Basically grab a handful with the straw and some sand mixed in, and slap it on the wall. Next smooth it out a bit. To keep the clothes clean, it's best to take them off."

"We live in such abundance. A bunch of poor people, we are still able to scrape up what we need to patch and glue this scene together."

"Recommended: Don't store the apples and rutabagas in the same cellar."

"Mercy mission to Lama; they have some sick ones. We gave them a five-pound cheese, elk meat, candles..."

"The huge teepee is up and the floor is covered with sheepskins, blankets and rugs. Tonight we go in to pray for a good spring and for this place. New buffalo was started with a peyote meeting. The ceremony joins the spirit of the new arrivals and the Indians, and gives thanks to mother earth, father sky and Jesus, for our life."

"The commune is a natural alternative to the lifestyle of consumption. I've still got a notion in the back of my head that this may play a role in the future of this country's economics. With roots in the soil, with people being close to some essentials, there would be less insecurity about the often-slipping number of jobs. With more working people not so dependent on the jobs offered by the big corporations, we would perhaps be able to depose those people who guide our economy into such conspicuous consumption."

Even though New Buffalo is no longer a commune, its legacy and vision continue. In my experience, it takes a long time to read a journal. It's different from a story, since there's no narrative thread per se. But the time is well worth it. The threads you do find are of solid gold.


Order out of Chaos (Order out of Chaos - Elite Sponsored Terrorism & the NEW World Order)
Order out of Chaos (Order out of Chaos - Elite Sponsored Terrorism & the NEW World Order)
by Paul Watson
Edition: Paperback
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hegelian Dialectic in Action, June 16, 2004
The Hegelian Dialectic, thesis, antithesis, synthesis, or problem, reaction, solution, is illustrated in spades by our present Administration according to Paul Joseph Watson and his book proves how it has worked in America since 9/11. He includes a quote from Hermann Goering, president of the Reichstag, Nazi Party, and the Luftwaffe Commander in Chief that has been making the rounds on the internet ever since the events of 9/11.
"Naturally the common people don't want war. Neither in Russa, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
Watson chronicles the history of this practice, from the Romans, through both our World Wars, our first Pearl Habor, Operation Northwoods and on in an attempt to install police state conditions all over the world and to establish a New World Order of repression and control of all peoples.
The author details all the evidence of our government's complicity in ordering the air force to stand down on September 11, 2001 and on that day only, how the Bush Administration protected the terrorists (letting them into our flight schools, issuing them visas, allowing them to leave and enter the country at will), the cover-up of evidence of the demolition of the towers, the lack of evidence that a 757 had flown into the Pentagon (there were no bodies, no 757 debris, the hole made was much smaller than a 757, and there were witnesses who claimed that what they saw was a military aircraft). The refusal of the Administration to relinquish tapes, transponder recordings, recordings of calls they claimed were made from the hijacked planes - all in the name of national security - obviates the official story. If they have nothing to hide, why are they hiding it?
A major smoking gun was the "fireman's video." Two French filmmakers, who were making a documentary about the New York Fire Service were in New York on September 11 and they filmed the first crash into the North Tower (supposedly American Airlines Flight 11). This video was shown on all the networks, and if you slow down the footage, frame by frame, you can see that not only is the aircraft not a 757 but that a missile is fired from it a split second before it hits the tower. Says this author, "The true Flights 11, 175, 77 and 93 were indeed substituted with other planes when the transponders were switched off. Someone hijacked the hijackers to make sure the job was done properly."
Among the countries that warned that an attack was immanent (including specific information of the intention to fly planes into the world trade center) were Italy, Britain, the Philippines, Germany, Israel, France, Egypt, Russia, Afghanistan and the Sudan.
President George W. Bush threatened FBI agents with arrest if they didn't cease investigation of Al-Qaeda two months prior to September 11. A secret FBI document, 1991 WF213589, was leaked by disgruntled FBI agents. It details how the FBI were ordered to discontinue investigation into members of the bin Laden family and WAMY (World Association of Muslim Youth) even though both networks had direct links to terrorism.
The book also reports on how the Bush Administration has benefited financially from this war. Cheney's Halburton (that had contracts on Iraq BEFORE 9/11) have made hundreds of billions of dollars already.
The LA Times reported on November 2002 on P20G, the Proactive Pre-emptive Operations Group that was set up to "launch secret operations aimed at stimulating reactions" among terrorists and states possessing weapons of mass destruction." Journalist Chris Floyd, outraged by P20G, said, "Let's say this plainly, clearly and soberly, so that no one can mistake the intention of Rumsfeld's plan - the United States government is planning to use `cover and deception' and secret military operations to provoke murderous terrorist attacks on innocent people. Let's say it again: Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, and the other members of the unelected regime in Washington plan to deliberately foment the murder of innocent people - your family, your friends, your lovers, you - in order to further their geopolitical ambitions. They will plot "imaginary terror attacks' on the U.S. and then thwart them, "...reassuring you that they will protect you by taking your rights away."
I had only a couple nit picking problems with this book. It's annoying that there's no index and there are grammatical errors (confusion of "affect" and "effect", use of the possessive for a simple plural, but alas, this seems to be rampant in American letters of late). These are piddly problems compared to the main thrust of this work, which is to warn the American people that we are being vastly lied to and manipulated. All the facts are documented in this book. Ignore them at your own peril. Read it.


The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11
The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11
by David Ray Griffin
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.61
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes Watergate Look like a Walk in the Park, April 29, 2004
This is indeed, in my opinion, the book of the century about the crime of the century. Since other reviewers have pretty well covered the major anomalies in the government's official story compared with the facts of the non-hijackings and the controlled demolitions of the towers, etc., I'll just mention things that particularly reached out and bit me.
Griffin reminds us that there are several U.S. precedents for fabricating a pretext for war, "...most notoriously for the wars against Mexico Cuba and Vietnam" and it is widely known that FDR allowed the original Pearl Harbor strike to happen to get us into WW II, but I'd not known before reading this book about "Operation Northwoods." Seems President Eisenhower asked the CIA to come up with a pretext to invade Cuba. So they came up with a plan of covert operations "...in such a manner as to avoid any appearance of U.S. intervention." But after the Bay of Pigs "fiasco", JFK took responsibility for Cuba away from the CIA and assigned it to the Department of Defense. Kennedy was then given a plan, signed by all the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that described "...pretexts which would provide justification for U.S. military intervention in Cuba." It was important, the memorandum said, "to camouflage the ultimate objective." The plan listed possible scenarios: "We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area...we could sink a boatload of Cubans en route to Florida (real or simulated)" or [says the plan], "It is possible to create an incident which will demonstrate convincingly that a Cuban aircraft has attacked and shot down a chartered civil airliner..." Gosh, doesn't this have a familiar ring to it? And Operation Northwoods was proposed way back in 1962! There's more: "An aircraft at Elgin AFB would be painted and numbered as an exact duplication for a civil registered aircraft belonging to a CIA proprietary organization in the Miami area. At a designated time, the duplication would be substituted for the actual civil aircraft and would be loaded with the selected passengers, all boarded under carefully prepared aliases. The actual registered aircraft would be converted to a drone." Then the drone and actual aircraft would rendezvous and the passengers evacuated. "When over Cuba, the drone will transmit on the international distress frequency a "MAY DAY" message stating he is under attack by Cuban MIG aircraft. The transmission will be interrupted by destruction of the aircraft which will be triggered by radio signal."
The above gives me some small hope that the passengers of Flight 77 may still be alive - somewhere.
Fortunately, Kennedy rejected Operation Northwoods . There is also a precedent for this. A heinous plan to annex Hawaii through subterfuge was rejected by President Grover Cleveland but was accepted by the next president William McKinley (who was also the one who used the Maine incident to justify entering the war against Spain in order to take control of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines).
So if anyone, after reading about these precedents can still say they find it unbelievable that our beloved government could possibly fabricate information which would result in the deaths of innocent people, all I can say is, "Stay as sweet as you are."
Another thing that jumped out at me was that if there was mere incompetence in the events of 9/11, as our government claims, why were there no reprimands? Some honest whistleblowers in the FBI, for instance and others who were zealous in pointing out discrepancies (including reporters) subsequently lost their jobs and some died under mysterious circumstances, but those who went with the program and at the very least could rightfully be accused of gross incompetence were not reprimanded, but in many cases promoted. Why?
And the lies - by Bush, by Condoleezza Rice, by Cheney, by Ashcroft - caught redhanded they were - a matter of public record, and the American public doesn't even seem to notice.
I believe that we in this country are in the throes of a mass psychosis brought on by an orchestrated fear. Griffin points out that the Bush Administration has repeatedly stonewalled all attempts at an investigation into 9/11 and Bush insisted on picking the investigators while instructing them to focus on how to prevent a recurrence of the tragedy and not to even look into the causes and participate in the "blame game." We are told that we must move on.
For anybody who still believes that our government was not complicit in the events of 9/11, I challenge you to read this book. Read all the footnotes. Check all the facts for yourselves. Just read it and then tell me: Is this the crime of the century or what?


The Designer Revolution
The Designer Revolution
by Valerie Kirschenbaum
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A NEW CANON, March 14, 2004
From her unique perspective as a high school teacher, Valerie Kirschenbaum has made some stunning discoveries about learning - that children learn much better when teachers use body language, that body language can be brought into writing with color and image which excite different groups of cells in the brain, that emotional arousal amplifies memory, that there is such a thing as visual thinking, and that word and image used simultaneously integrates brain operations and allows the student to come to a higher level of understanding more quickly. "Especially today," says the author, "if we don't immediately grab them, we too often lose them. Colorful visuals are a way of grabbing their attention, arousing their emotions and of sustaining their interest."
In researching the subject, Ms. Kirschenbaum discovered, for example, that "...the image of a Buddha can trigger the release of hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine, causing them to interact with nerves in the body and travel to the brain. Literally, the image opens the mind and heart of the reader." And in Tibet, the sight of an image that the viewer perceives as sacred can trigger electrochemical responses in the brain, i.e. readers could SEE concepts. "With the designer word," Valerie maintains, "we can transform traditionally verbal techniques into visual techniques. Rhyme, repetition, metaphor, figures of speech, characterization, tone, simile and symbolism can all be visual. We can foreshadow, change moods, express irony or sarcasm and allude and alliterate visually. The possibilities are endless..."If we cannot always make this exquisite avalanche of consciousness sayable, then we can at least make it showable." Amen to that.
It's not exactly rocket science to realize that this could be an incredible aid to reading and therefore to learning in our technological society, but as far as I am aware, nobody has connected these particular dots before this particular young woman came on the scene and pointed them out.
Before the advent of Gutenberg, Medieval illuminators used ornament and decoration to create "multiple simultaneous meanings." After Gutenberg, when block black-and-white printing became the norm, "...writers couldn't synthesize their verbal and visual innovations. They couldn't write outside the box and think outside the box simultaneously. They were stuck between word and image, seeing and thinking, left brain and right brain." And while Medieval denial may have been rooted in religion, our modern denial is rooted in an antiquated technology that insists that black and white blocks of texts are the only proper form for serious scholarship and that images, different fonts and color should be relegated to children's books.
As Leonard Shlain observed in his groundbreaking work, *The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image*, our era is evolving toward a new integration of left and right brain functions with keyboards, computers, TV, movies, etc. Why cannot that integration be extended to the printed word?
This book realizes left and right-brain integration in a most delightful way. I especially enjoyed the color graphics where Medieval, Greek and Renaissance characters are shown to be writing and on closer inspection, you see that they're using computers. I would have liked a snappier title for the book but have to admit that upon this writing, I haven't thought of any.
"First a new theory is attacked as absurd," says William James in *Pragmatism's conception of Truth.* "Then it is admitted to be true but insignificant. Finally it is seen to be so important that its adversaries claim that they themselves discovered it." One can only hope that Valerie Kirschenbaum's name will still be remembered long after her thesis has become a new canon. But as she herself admits, in the long run it doesn't matter as long as the new canon is adopted, because "...no matter how much I may have blossomed, I could never stand up before other teachers and writers and designers and not invite every one of them to surpass me."
"We will not join the ranks of the Old Canon. We will create a new Canon...."We will seek the rose in the prose. We will find the light in delight." And finally "incipit liberi besti" -"begin beautiful books." I believe this is an idea whose time has come. Bravo!


AsEverWas: Memoirs of a Beat Survivor
AsEverWas: Memoirs of a Beat Survivor
by Hammond Guthrie
Edition: Hardcover
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A LIFE ARTIST, October 27, 2003
Remember Woody Allen's movie "Zelig" that places the chameleon-like Zelig in all the important places among all the major people of the history of the time? Insert "Hammond Guthrie" as Zelig in all these places from LA to London, from Amsterdam to Tangier and you'll get an idea of the scope of this memoir. In reviewing it, the temptation is to reel off lists of the famous people that the author has known. But one has only to glance at the well-appointed index to see the illustrious names. The spectrum of his contacts - artists, architects, cartoonists, writers, musicians, film-makers and even scientists - boggles the mind. He has a talent for schmooozing with people from diverse cultures and persuasions, famous and infamous. He can be the hipster extraordinaire in L.A, the proper gentleman in London, the cutting edge artiste in Amsterdam, as well as the flamboyant "European with two wives" in Tangier. His adventures there read like a page from Tennessee Williams' *Suddenly Last Summer* or Lawrence Durrell's *Alexandria Quartet* (but with a more engaging spin).
Being all things to all people, he had his finger in every pie and his hand on the pulse of everything artistically innovative in the `60s and early `70s. In addition to being a painter, writer, musician and film-maker, he experimented with "...cinematic dissolve and juxtaposition of genre" in his "event rituals," tone poems and overdubbed happenings.
There are hilarious episodes, from getting a fake marine ID in Mexico to his elaborate and ultimately successful ruse to avoid the draft. Once he jumped out of a car he'd hitched a ride in when the driver told him it was stolen. He ditched the "supposed narcosi" the driver had given him behind the first bush he came to and "...to avoid the obvious, I ducked into the darkened courtyard of a quasi-subterranean establishment called the Fifth Estate..." where he met some people he would know for the rest of his life.
I most enjoyed the odd little serendipitous scenes such as the time when,
still in school, but working for the summer with his high school band buddies at a Lake near Tahoe, Hammond met three Angels who had descended on the town café, much to the perplexity of the waitress who made noises about closing at 9:30 a.m. When a smooth Latin voice intervened on his behalf, Hammond turned around to see "...three of the most ominous-looking human beings I had ever laid eyes on." After inviting them politely (he "knew enough to be very polite) to his band's evening at the local lodge, one of them asked Hammond if he "...drank beer or smoked dope." Says Guthrie, "I told him I certainly drank beer and had `tripped out on LSD once," but hadn't smoked any dope, which was the truth. (Never tell an Angel anything but the truth.") His "outlaw companions" cracked up at this. Then Hammond's benefactor handed him his "senior member of the Hell's Angels" club card saying that "...it might come in handy some day." It was signed, "Zorro."
Two years later, Guthrie saw a news article that identified the three "modern-day gladiators" that he'd met in his youth. More years later, flat broke in Barstow, CA "...where tumbleweeds go to die..." a biker wearing Angel colors roared up and Guthrie's "speed-drenched brain" remembered Zorro's "well-worn wallet card." He "...stumbled up beside the hairy behemoth" presented him with the card and asked politely for assistance. Whereupon, "...he sized me up for just a second, smiled as only an Angel from Hell can, and said, "Hop on little buddy and I'll take you anywhere in the country you want to go."
Or how about the time that Lawrence Ferlinghetti handed him the original hand-written pages of Jack Kerouac's *Scriptures of the Golden Eternity* or when Ginserg handed him a Tibetan Dorje and "...a numbing energy surged through my arm and my hand spasmed out in front of me like a humanoid dowser's wand!"
Guthrie met with William Burroughs in London, who helped in publishing his *Belfast Insert* which was an experiment in "cut/up writing." "Cut/up writing" explains the author, "is an extension of Tristan Tzara's early Dada prose taken to a painter's point of view and then reapplied to the written word. The resulting texts of combined structure and newly formed contents offer an unusual approach to the written space/time continuum." (There is a picture of the cover of Belfast Insert in the very interesting photo section of the book).
Of Emmett Grogan, Guthrie says: "I was especially enamored by his consciously plagiaristic use of Adolph Hitler's Mein Kamphian Diabologue at the Roundhouse in London, during the "Dialectics of Liberation" event, a counter-conference of hip dignitaries. At first he was vigorously applauded for his oration and then people cried out in staunch indignation when he revealed the origin of the words."
And although Guthrie's heartbreak at the loss of his wife to a drug smuggler was obviously real and excruciating, perhaps the subtext of his reaction was that the event served as an excuse NOT to take the plum of artistic success offered him by Willem Sandberg (his mentor and friend in Amsterdam) and limit himself to painting alone but to remain free and flexible.
All these experiences are liberally laced with copious amounts of pharmacopoeia of every kind from grass and hash to hallucinogens to amphetamines so these pages are compressed life. Elegant as champagne and caviar, rich as eggnog and cheesecake, the memoir runs cinematic-like reels through the imagination. Since the author's life is not over yet (his book begins and ends with his decision to kill himself) it's fitting that the very last words on the last page are "to be continued."
One can only hope that the words mean just that and that in the fullness of time, we will be treated to the rest of the story. It will be well worth waiting for.


Drop City
Drop City
by T. Coraghessan Boyle
Edition: Hardcover
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25 of 42 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Negative stereotypes and sensationalism, April 23, 2003
This review is from: Drop City (Hardcover)
This book tells it like it never was. The best thing about it is the cover picture(taken from *Aquarian Odyssey* by Don Synder). But it�s all down hill from there. The author, it seems, has an agenda. He�s supposedly showing and telling the nitty gritty of hippie communal life in the �60s and �70s as if it were an historical novel, which it isn�t. Instead, his creation is a condemnatory cartoon from hell - the Zap comix version. The author takes snippets of actual lifestyles and happenings of the period and weaves it into a complete fabrication and caricature, not readily apparent to anyone who has not lived through and participated of the communal life of the era. Nowhere is there mention of the new social order attempted or the continuation of that social order in hundreds of communes that survive to the present time.
Boyle takes the name �Drop City� from an actual commune in Colorado by that name, famous for its geodesic Buckminster Fuller domes, but this fictional commune is nothing like the original Drop City. There is never any mention of spiritual values and practices observed at the time. Instead, the people portrayed are uniformly stupid, immature and degenerate.

Boyle pulls in worst-case scenarios from several different communes and makes up the rest. It�s true that there were drugs used (but not the endless supply of marijuana, hallucinogens, uppers and downers that Boyle�s Drop City folks always have). It�s true that love was free (what kind of love isn�t free anyway?) but not the mandate to �ball� anyone and everyone as in Boyle�s Drop City. Incidentally, the words �cat�, �chicks� and �ball� are all East Coast words of the late �50s and early �60s. Boyle shows that he�s 10 years behind the times and geographically unhip when he insists on using these words so frequently in referring to a West Coast commune. Sounds like he�s imitating Tommy Chong�s stoner spoofs. He�s similarly sloppy throughout. He has communards gathering peyote �buds� in the hills of California where peyote doesn�t grow and never did, and he has rattlesnakes appearing where there are no rattlesnakes and never were.
It�s ludicrous when he talks about voluntary poverty in one breath and then has the hippies eating eggs, toast and juice for breakfast, tahini casseroles and baloney sandwiches for lunch, home-canned goods and three-course dinners for supper with plenty of cookies and brownies all the time. Three meals a day, when the most that any truly poor commune manages is two meals a day.

And it�s downright silly when he has everybody puffing away on tailor-made cigarettes. Most people in communes don�t smoke tobacco (too expensive), but when they do, they�re always roll-your-owns. And how about all that underwear? Nobody that I know of wore underwear in rural communes of the times.
So then he has these supposedly poor but actually rich hippies moving to Alaska, after Drop City is bulldozed by the health department. I�ve never been to Alaska and don�t know the country or people, but it�s a safe bet from the inaccuracies of his portrayal of Northern California that he also misrepresented the Native Americans of Alaska. There is no mention here of their ancient culture and values. Here, he says that they�re all drunken, debauched, savage and filthy.
It�s a shame that Boyle couldn�t have turned his considerable narrative talents to another genre. I say this because he does know his craft. If he had a science background, he would probably be an excellent science fiction writer. As it is, the characters in this novel are purposely shallow and two-dimensional because of his hidden agenda. If you didn�t know anything about his subject, you�d think it was a good read.
Actually, it�s a stunt and a disappointment. After all the glowing reviews, I want to add this note of dissent. It could have been better � a LOT better. For openers, it could have been REAL.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 30, 2013 5:38 PM PDT


The Toe Bone and the Tooth: An Ancient Mayan Story Relived in Modern Times: Leaving Home to Come Home
The Toe Bone and the Tooth: An Ancient Mayan Story Relived in Modern Times: Leaving Home to Come Home
by Martín Prechtel
Edition: Hardcover
31 used & new from $8.48

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Story, March 26, 2003
"In much wisdom is much grief" says the Preacher in Ecclesiastes, "and he that increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow." There is much wisdom, grief, knowledge, sorrow, and finally joy in Martin Prechtel's new book. You don't have to read his previous three, *Secrets of the Talking Jaguar,* *Long Life, Honey in the Heart,* and *The Disobedience of the Daughter of the Sun* to understand and appreciate the message of *The Toe Bone and the Tooth* - but it helps.
This is a story about keeping the Great Story alive - "An Ancient Mayan Story Relived in Modern Times: Leaving Home to Come Home."
It starts out with Martin's return to Guatamala in 1992 after many years in exile from his adopted country, where his village of Santiago Atitlan had been destroyed and 1800 of his friends and villagers slaughtered by American-backed death squads in the 1980s. He was picked up at the airport by three teenage boys (who had been small children when the devastation took place) and smuggled back to the village under a truckload of Mayan squashes. Along the way, the boys were eager to hear the story of the Toe Bone and Tooth that had been outlawed (as well as their language) by the various and many invaders of their country. Landmarks of the Story were everywhere (much as Australian Dreamtime stories are dependent on the land for the telling).
Martin was welcomed in Santiago Atitlan as the Shaman and healer that he was for many years. He had had a Mayan wife and three sons there (one son died) and his little family had barely escaped with their lives.
The ancient story of the Toe Bone and Tooth is inserted here - the Story of a mortal, Raggedy Boy, who fell in love with the Water Goddess, the story of her death after bearing him two corn children and being forgotten when her husband returned to the mortal world. When he did remember her through dreams, he had to re-member her, gathering her bones with the help of Coyote (who had the toe bone and tooth) and descending into the underworld to retrieve her heart. He was helped by an old magical couple. Re-membered, she became an ordinary woman and he became an ordinary man, and from them, all humans are descended.
The next few chapters chronicle the story of Martin's first arrival in Santiago Atitlan - how he'd been lost in a blizzard in his American homeland of Northern New Mexico in his youth, and how he was saved by a mare named Morningstar and an old Spanish lady who cured him of an almost fatal fever with bear grease and herbs. During his convalescence, he had 11 dreams of Santiago Atitlan and Nicolas Chiviliu Tacaxoy, who was to become his teacher, friend and mentor and who had called him through dreams for three years before he finally arrived in the village. Says Prechtel, "Though I was blond and born far away, we were the old and young generation of throwbacks from other times and layers of existence in which a humble dynasty of people in service to the remembrance of the Dismembered Goddess was continued from century to century."
Another chapter tells of Martin's defense of a young Mayan seminary student, Gaspar Culan, who was accused of worshipping idols because he had participated in an ancient Mayan sacred ceremony involving Holy Boy, whom the Catholic Church had branded as a devil but is actually a Christ figure. Martin (who speaks English, Spanish, and Mayan fluently) was to be Gaspar's advocate. Holy Boy had been called a Jew by the Church. Martin pointed out that they had dubbed the deity a Jew (and a devil) because Jews were at least considered to be human and therefore were subject to the 16th Century Inquisition. Mayans hadn't been considered people before that, so if their God was a Jew, the Inquisition could persecute and prosecute them. Martin won his case, and Culan was ordained as the first Mayan Catholic priest.
Several chapters are devoted to the Prechtel family's nothing-short-of-miraculous escape from Guatamala. Martin's teacher had ordered Martin to stay alive at all costs so that he might carry the seed of the story to the U.S. and preserve it for the Mayans whose history and culture had been outlawed.
When Martin got back to the U.S. and his old homeland in New Mexico, he and his family lived in poverty and difficulties for several years, but in Santa Fe he met a homeless couple who were like the old couple in the Story. Here, the narrative goes into the third person as the old couple tell Martin's story and do for him what he had done for countless people in his life - re-membered him for the holy amnesiacs (all of us). Martin's story mirrors the Great Story - "the story of ordinary people, extraordinarily in love and the story of the struggle of what it takes to be graced with such love is the story from which all humans are descended."
The author dedicates this book to the "deer-eyed daughter of the mountain, the mother of the great diversity" and to "all those peoples, plants and animals who have been and continue to be forcibly uprooted, rerouted, relocated, corralled, cut, branded, burnt out, burned down, burnt up, crushed, eradicated or driven from their homes in infinite diasporas of all types, to live where they may be unwelcome, while still trying to keep alive their seed capsules of cultural memory in hopes to regrow a home again. May their descendants be carved by the inherited grief of their ancestral loss to become feeders of what is holy in the ground, dedicated to something bigger than their need for justice and the pursuit of revenge."
This is a fantastic, exciting but true story, and in my opinion, this is a life-changing book. Read it!


Maori
Maori
by Alan Dean Foster
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
104 used & new from $0.01

47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Epic Historical NOVEL, February 18, 2003
This review is from: Maori (Mass Market Paperback)
Ever since I saw the movie "The Piano", I've been curious about the Maori of New Zealand. It is assumed that they are descendents of Polynesians, but their culture and character are unique. They are a most intelligent and beautiful people. When the English moved in to colonize, they were much quicker to learn the language and customs of the intruders than the British, Irish, Australians and Germas were to learn about them. So they had a distinct advantage. They had heard what happened to the indigenous peoples of the Americas, Australia, Africa and Asia when European Imperialists took over, enslaving and killing the natives and appropriating their land. Inevitably, the same thing happened to the Maoris too but not to such an extent. Forewarned is forearmed.
The story starts in 1839 and spans more than 50 years. It concerns an English sea captain of his times (who nevertheless learned the Maori language), and his sons by his English wife, his Irish mistress and the Maori love of his life.
What bothers me about *Maori* is that it's called an "epic historical fantasy." This is a misnomer since the fantastic elements in it are a matter of historical record. After his epilogue, the author states that,
"Although real and fictional personages mix freely in this tale, the sighting of the death canoe by two separate parties of travelers and the entombment and subsequent rescue and death of the 104-year-old Maori, Tohunga [a shaman] known as Tuhoto, are a matter of historical record."
As is the eruption in 1886 of the volcano Tarawera and the burying of the "eighth wonder of the world", the pink and white limestone terraces that drew sight-seers from all over the 19th century world.
Alan Dean Foster is known primarily as a science fiction writer, so his publishers probably assumed it had to be "historical fantasy." It's an historical novel. Period. I'm amazed that it has received no other Amazon reviews because it's quite simply the best historical novel I've ever read.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 11, 2009 4:53 PM PST


The Boy and the Dog Are Sleeping
The Boy and the Dog Are Sleeping
by Nasdijj
Edition: Hardcover
94 used & new from $0.01

5 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One long wounded howl/whine?, February 16, 2003
"There are as many kinds of good writing as there are good writers," a friend once told me. Nasdijj's writing style, to be sure, is unusual, but he has proved that he's a good writer with his previous book. So what happened here? The temptation is to blame it on his editor, or lack thereof. A good editor would have told him that, first of all, about 100 pages need to be lopped off the work, that the clipped Hemmingway-type sentences and sentence fragments work in some cases, but they don't work here, that they sound contrived and phony. A good editor would have told the author not to go on and on, paragraph after paragraph, rhyming in narrative form.
"The same stinking motel beds of sadness flare with our eyes and bleed. To lean our weight against the curb. The father and son are drenched and heard. Or worse. The morning dogs await. The touch, the end, the kiss of fate. Sending us reeling over mountains to the sea. Stars back home break in ecstasy."
It just gets worse and worse, meaning less and less. It sounds like the author thinks he's being paid by the word, so he dug up some of his old adolescent attempts at poetry (all dreadful) and tortured them into fitting the narrative of the memoir. They don't. A good editor, in other words, would have saved him from himself. It's especially disappointing because the Nasdijj has some important things to say and these devices distract and detract from the message, which is vital and urgent.
One of Nasdijj's missions in life seems to be finding and loving hopeless cases, lost boys. In his first book, it was Tommy Nothing Fancy who had fetal alcohol syndrome; in this one, it's Awee, who is dying of AIDS. One of Nasdijj's "sons" who didn't die but has a hearing impediment calls him on this when Nasdijj shuts Crow Dog out of helping him care for Awee.
"How am I going to know you through this?" he says. 'Now that there's a new one who will sort of take my place as your new lost cause. You DO do that. Don't tell me you don't. For once, just SHUT UP. It's done. Bring him over to my trailer and we'll play cards when you get over yourself, okay,' Crow said. Then he left."
In this book, the author calls attention to the deplorable state of Western medicine that ignores the pain of children with AIDS, denying already dying kids the relief of pain medication under the rationale that they might become addicted, when it's the stress and trauma of that excruciating pain that is shortening their lives even more.
There are no hilarious episodes such as the case of Onate's foot as in the previous book, but Nasdjii says some things here that you probably won't find anywhere else - things that need to be said.
"There is no consistency to AIDS treatment in America. That is a fact. The only concrete thing these medical systems share is that you have to fight to get anything from them. The good ones and the bad ones. You fight to get in and get treated."
Then, to get pain medication, you have to resort to illegal sources, or else watch these innocents writhe in agony.
Nasdijj also draws attention to the way Uranium mines are killing Indian peoples with cancer. Church Rock, near Gallup, New Mexico is a case in point. "There is more yellowcake in this area than anywhere else on earth."
"Some of the largest corporations in America simply declared brankruptcy in the early 1990s and walked away. If you're brankrupt, you're not liable for environmental damage, nor can you be sued. So they just packed up and left the reservation.
With the mess still there.
It is all still there."
"The Russians have Chernobyl. We have Church Rock, but you've never heard about Church Rock or the radioactive accident that occurred there. An accidental spill released more radioactivity in the water table, and into the land, than was released at Three Mile Island.
It was a nonevent.
That is because to this day it is not considered to be NEWSWORTHY. They were only Indians.
It is, however, a matter of public record."
Nasdijj is right. I didn't know about this until I read it here and I live fewer than 30 miles away from the site of the spill.
Nasdijj has a heart bigger than all these wretched circumstances and enough love to wake up the world. If his editor hadn't been sleeping, *The Boy and the Dog are Sleeping* would have been one long howl as it was, I think, meant to be, without the detracting whine. But with all its faults, this memoir is well worth reading.


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