Friday, July 24, 2015

Mexico, Poncho and Willie

As we watched the video of Mexico's biggest drug dealer, El Chapo, drop out of his cell into a man-made tunnel, I remembered a phrase from Willie Nelson in his song "Poncho and Lefty" which seemed to sum up the ability of the Mexican government to control their country.
The song goes: "All the Federales say they could have had him any day.
                              "We only let him slip away, out of kindness, I suppose."
The video that supposedly was monitored 24 hours a day clearly didn't do any good. I heard the warden was fired, but if anybody thinks he's the only one involved, I'd like to administer an IQ test to him.
How can we work together with the government as inapt as Mexico's.
But then again how can Mexico deal with a country like the United States which has so many addicts and people who want their product. Hollywood glamorizes the drug trade. Everyone who wants stricter drug controls is looked on as a loser with chronic bowel problems. And in the end, everyone is afraid to admit Mexico's problem is really our problem. If no one wanted it, people wouldn't kill each other to deliver it to us.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Saluting Max Allan Collins

When you come upon a writer who's been active for 32 years and is very successful, you wonder why you've never heard of him. I guess the answer is easy; I was a college professor. Many of my friends were college professors. No wonder when many people hear the word professor they picture a spaced out guy with elbow patches on his tweed jacket who is utterly cut off from the mainstream. But hallelujah I've seen the real world (at least a close approximation) and I'm ready to read some more novels. Max Allan Collins wrote his first Chicago novel about Nate Heller in 1983. It took place when prohibition was in force and Al Capone ran the city. In the novels that follow Nate develops a relationship with Frank Nitti, Capone's successor; earns a Silver Star on Guadalcanal and returns to the Windy City after a section 8 retires him from the Marine Corps.
The research that goes in to the Nate Heller novels is prodigious. In the 16th or 17th, I can't remember which one, Heller is involved with a CIA plot that somehow leads to the death of JFK in Dallas. Every step of the way, as he does in all his novels, he makes sure that almost all historical facts are correct. The man is a genius and apparently indefatigable.
He wrote the graphic novel, "Road to Perdition" that became a great movie with Tom Hanks. He has written screenplays, comic books and historical fiction. He collaborated with Mickey Spillane, and after Spillane's death, completed novels Spillane had begun.
So this is a salute to a great writer whom you'd better start reading before Nate Heller comes across your sorry ass and takes you to Chicago, where you end up sleeping with the fishes.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Take Down the Confederate Flag

My great-grandfather left his home in Mexico, New York to fight against slavery. The Confederate flag represented slavery and nothing else. He died in the 19th century but states in the South still have the Confederate flag flying over their statehouses.
The Confederate flag stands for the rights of white people to own African-American people. The Confederate flag stands for racism. The Confederate flag represents a time in which Americans believed Thomas Jefferson was wrong when he wrote that Americans were entitled to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. (Jefferson of course did not free his slaves and was a living denial of the Declaration of Independence.)
Today when states have to debate whether to keep the Confederate flag, America looks like a banana republic. When Republicans mostly stay silent on this issue we can see how racism is a threat to this country.
The fact that this deserves a debate makes America look foolish to the rest of the world. Take down that flag.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

AME Churches Deserve Great Respect

I want to salute the AME churches I’ve been lucky enough to attend. I also love the call and response ministry which binds the congregation to Jesus The full name of the  church is the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
I grew up in the Methodist Church, where churches were congregated geographically. I didn't know until I was much older that when I went to Sunday school all the Black churches that were Methodist (not AME) were collected into something called the central jurisdiction. In other words, Methodists were divided into Black and White churches. It made a mockery of the first song I learned which said "Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world. Black and yellow, brown and white, all are equal in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world."
The AME churches were formed in the early part of the 19th century after African-American Methodists were not allowed to pray with White Methodists.
I've been to AME churches in the fifth District. They run the gamut from First AME, a Los Angeles church that is visited by presidents, to Bethel AME where parishioners cars are locked within a fence so parishioners can pray without worrying about their cars. A coworker of mine named Joe should have been canonized for the effort he gave and the goodness in his heart. (yes, I know canonization is a Catholic or Episcopalian concept)
What I love about these churches is their hymnals, which contain a lot of hymns I learned long ago that are no longer in the mainstream Methodist Hymnal.
Today, I despair for my country that has never learned that Jesus really loves all the little children and does not acknowledge that God really created us equal.