Going for Guinness

Nopal

I HAD A NOPAL cactus growing in a whiskey barrel planter in my Houston yard in the early 1990s. It only had about four fronds, and it was notable for its lack of enthusiasm, no zest for life whatsoever.

After my wife tossed me out on the street in 1995, she got rid of it because it was “bad feng shui,” she claimed. I don’t believe in feng shui. I can’t imagine that the Goddess cares any more about which direction your door is facing than she does whether you eat fish on Friday or pork on any day whatsoever.

She is not so superficial.

She has more important things on her mind, like what those Mohammedans will do next to make peace on Earth dang near impossible. Mohammedans are a burr in her beautiful backside.

My nopal never did squat in Houston.

Flash forward two decades. A few years ago I planted a small nopal, consisting of only two little fronds, in the yard of our Hacienda. It went berserk, and now it’s just shy of 13 feet tall. Yes, I did measure.

I trim it now and then, with ladder, clippers and much trepidation, mostly to prevent its spreading horizontally, which it hankers to do. It wants to spread in every direction, but I keep it pointed heavenward. It’s height that interests me. In time I want this spikey baby to be in the Guinness Book of Records.

An old coot dreams of fame. I will be very proud.

Cactus

Figs and knives

Fig

FIGS HEREABOUTS have been quite pricey of late, but that has not caused a price increase in this fig bread that I like to buy warm from a basket on the smaller downtown plaza. About $1.25 or 16 pesos.

There are two versions, the integral and the other one, called nata. I always get the integral because it’s a bit better on the healthy scale. I buy it, bag it, and walk to a sidewalk coffee shop on the big plaza, sit, slice and eat some. I never eat it all because it’s too much. But I’ve been known to share.

I slice it with that knife, which I tote in my pocket. I’ve carried that knife in my right pocket for many years. It is very sturdy and has but one blade, which is all you need. I bought the knife in a street market for about three bucks, and it’s served me very well. It has a snazzy, wood handle. Well made and heavy.

When we bought the property where the Hacienda now sits, back in 2002, there was a fig tree in residence. Alas, we had to remove it a couple of years later to construct a carport for the second car, the little Chevy, which we sold last year to buy the new Nissan March.

But that has nothing to do with either figs or knives, just to let you know what happened to the fig tree. A few months ago, my child bride came home with a tiny fig plant in a little pot. It’s now in a planter in the yard, growing sweetly. One day it will be a tree planted in the ground, full of figs.

So I sit at the sidewalk table with warm fig bread that I’ve cut with my snazzy knife, and I admire the brown-skinned beauties passing by, and I think, Jeez, I wish I had done this when I was far younger.

First family: race-baiters

The guys

BARRY OBAMA will give the keynote address tomorrow in New York City at an annual conference sponsored by race hustler and profiteer Al Sharpton. Good Lord Almighty!

Sharpton, as you likely know, has made a highly profitable career out of promoting racial strife and ill will in America. His best-known escapade was that of pushing the bogus accusation in 1987 of a black teenager, Tawana Brawley, who claimed she had been raped and brutalized by a gang of white guys.

The charges were proven to be totally fabricated. In spite of Sharpton’s doing severe damage to the reputation and career of County Prosecutor Steven Pagones (a racist!), and of being ordered to pay thousands of dollars in damages, Sharpton never apologized to Pagones, and he never paid the damages.

And just this week, it came to light that Sharpton was an FBI stool pigeon in the 1980s.

He is, in short, the sort of spectacularly unsavory individual that any president should keep at arm’s length. Barry, however, embraces him. And Michelle is no better.

Last year, the first lady was the keynote speaker at the annual convention of La Raza, a racist Latino organization, many members of which support illegal immigration and promote the return of large swaths of the southwestern United States to Mexico from which it was “stolen” in the 19th century.

La Raza means The Race. How clear can it get?

The First Family should be national unifiers. This family is precisely the opposite.

* * * *

Here’s a nice piece on Sharpton.

Remains of the day

Train

THIS DAY DAWNED gray and cold. Upstairs, reading the morning’s ever-grim news from above the Rio Bravo, I shivered, and it was not simply the weather’s chill.

I heard the approaching freight train, so I picked up the Kodak Easyshare and stepped out to the terraza on the second floor and snapped this shot.

After doing exercise on the gym set across the room, the hour of 8 was upon me, so downstairs I went, calling out — as I always do — Let’s eat!   The cry is echoed back to me from the bedroom where my child bride is either still in bed, reading, or making it. The bed, that is.

I serve everything at that hour. The bagels, the cream cheese, the coffee, plus I set the plates and knives out, napkins too. I do it all, not being a real Mexican man who simply waits to be coddled.

After my child bride gets pinto beans boiling, we bundle up a bit, and walk 20 minutes around the nearby plaza. On our return, we sit on the downstairs terraza. I drink fresh orange juice squeezed before we departed, and she peels and eats a grapefruit, unsugared, which is just one step shy of sucking a lemon.

Women can be hard to figure.

Sitting there, we phone the propane company down the highway. Our tank is near empty. We’re told the truck will be here ahorita, which literally means pretty soon, but which actually means someday before you die.

Chores begin. I sweep the upstairs terraza and the service patio off the kitchen. I do some updates on the computer during the sweeps. I take a shower and dress. The propane delivery still has not arrived, but then I have not died yet. No matter. We have enough for many days more.

It’s almost time for Second Breakfast, which arrives at 11 a.m. I am scrubbed and installed in fresh clothes. My hair is combed, and I smell pretty good.

The ninth of April has not arrived at noon, but that’s all you get today. The remains must remain a mystery. I will say this much: Pinto beans and roasted chicken. Espresso on the plaza.

And the sun is now shining.

PC terrorists

A profile

A profile

THE GREAT STATE of Arizona is in trouble again. The ACLU says police profiled a couple of Latino dudes. Well, duh, I say. That’s smart. Keep it up!

Whenever someone is accused of profiling, they invariably deny it. This is a poor reply. The proper response is yes, I profile. It makes sense. It is an effective law-enforcement tool.

I touched on this matter hereabouts a couple of years ago, so I will not repeat myself. Click here if you want a fuller explanation of the perfect sense of profiling.

That the PC Legions have effectively gagged all conversation about the value of profiling is sad, pathetic and dangerous. They are a terror group. Just ask the former CEO of Firefox who contributed $1,000 to support traditional marriage in California in 2008,* booted from his job last week for the sin.

It’s lamentable that the PC Brown Shirts (no pun intended) have such an innocuous name. Politically correct. Sounds perfectly reasonable, something that might appeal to any end of the belief spectrum. Everybody wants to be correct, and most of us are convinced we are. The PC name is a sweet deception.

What we actually have is a Gestapo, a Stasi, a KGB, a Red Guard in miniature, still in sour-faced, angry, youth mode, having yet to attain adulthood. This Movement is now running America.

It is made up of two sectors:

1.  Belligerent Leftists. This is the smaller of the two groups, but their anger and sense of total righteousness drives the Movement and makes it dangerous. They abound on campus.

2. The Pawns. This more numerous segment consists of people across society who are poorly informed (no sense of history or human nature) and basically aren’t paying attention. But supporting “the oppressed” sounds nice to them and fair. They voted for Barry not once but twice.

These are the sort of people who, when Dachau was liberated in 1945, lived in a nearby town and who claimed they had no idea what was happening behind the razor wire down the road. And many were telling the truth because they weren’t paying attention, didn’t care.

Currently, disobeying edicts of the Politically Correct Brown Shirts will only get you fired from your job and often shunned from society, depending on where you live and work. You won’t be shot or gassed just yet.

The Movement hasn’t reached adulthood. But it’s working out, popping vitamins.

It’s still pre-1932.

One of the loudest platoons of Sector No. 1 are gay activists who will sue your pants off if you won’t bake their wedding cakes or photograph their Rainbow events. It can get uglier if you criticize their marriages. This “difference of opinion” is what put Firefox’s CEO out on the street. Unacceptable ideas.

Interestingly, journalist Andrew Sullivan, quite gay and liberal, said this about the Firefox case in a post titled “The Hounding of a Heretic” on the popular blog The Daily Dish:

The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today – hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else – then count me out. If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us.

Gay bullies are PC Brown Shirts, but so are other permanently aggrieved segments of spoiled America. Many are minorities because it’s attractive to be aggrieved if you’re a minority. It can also be convenient and profitable. (See Al Sharpton.) But many in Sector No. 1 are well-off, white, belligerent Leftists.

And their willing pawns live their lives, not noticing the razor wire growing higher just up the road.

* * * *

* The same stance as Barry Obama in that time.

The superior nation

bougainvillea

MEXICO IS A SUPERIOR nation, especially when stacked up against the United States.

To start with, plants grow better, as this photo illustrates. I planted that big mama bougainvillea when it was knee-high to me, or less. It was in a little pot. You may see a floating head behind the maguey.

Peek-a-boo!

That bougainvillea is going to give me problems. On the right, it has gripped the wall, falling over to the other side, providing a pretty view to the sex hotel. On the left, however, it is leaning this way and, in time, will collapse in all its prickly glory. There are two steel support chains in there somewhere, but they’re not enough.

Plants grow better in Mexico.

* * * *

Our economy improves daily. There are lots of help-wanted ads in newspapers. And Help Wanted signs on restaurants and storefronts. Setting up a small, street business is pretty easy and can be profitable. There are bountiful post-high-school educational opportunities. And scholarships. Trade schools too.

So why do we sneak into the United States? Cultural issues. We’ve been doing it for so long we don’t know how to stop. We’re imperfect and must work on that.

The economy in the United States is stagnant and promises to worsen due to stunning debt. Its cultural defects are growing, and people are at one another’s throats. I’ve seen more street people in America than in Mexico.

Our economy points upward. The other side? Nah.

* * * *

There is less violent crime in Mexico. Say what? you exclaim. Yes, you are less likely to be a victim of random violence in most of Mexico than you are in the United States. We are a peaceable people. All the nasty stuff you read stems 99 percent from the narcos and government fighting one another, plus the narcos fighting each other. Stay out of it. And you easily can.

Side issue: The “War on Drugs” prompts the narco violence in Mexico. America is the cause.

You are safer below the border.

* * * *

Our healthcare system is effective and affordable. The U.S. healthcare system is a mess. With ObamaCare it will simply be another sort of mess. You will stand in line. And taxes will increase. You may die in line.

For good medical care, head south.

* * * *

The Mexican government pretty much leaves you in peace. The American government grows more intrusive by the day (See ObamaCare. See Socialism). In Mexico, we are left to live our lives as we wish. Mind your own business  is a basic component of the Mexican culture. And smile while doing it. Say cheese, amigos.

* * * *

Taxes, utilities, labor, etcetera, are far cheaper than in the United States. While we generally earn less than in the United States, we also pay less. And there are ways for the ambitious to earn more. And still pay less.

* * * *

Mexico is not multicultural, and does not want to be. This contributes to peace in a society. We are unicultural, a  blend of original natives with the post-Conquest Spaniards. We are brown, and we speak Spanish. Oh, we give lip service now and then to the indigenous, but nobody really cares. And no one gets “offended.”

We understand that a nation is a group of people who are basically the same.

If you don’t speak Spanish in a Mexican school, you will flunk out. Period. Absolutely no one will “celebrate your roots” if your roots sprouted elsewhere. And if you’re caught here with no visa you are deported lickety-split. No tears are shed over your “rights” or how “oppressed” you are.

* * * *

Mexico realizes that men and women are very different. Mexico would never elect a nancy president who rides a bicycle with a crash helmet, smokes in secret, and wears mom jeans. We would die of embarrassment.

* * * *

It is great to live in a superior nation. We grow stupendous bougainvillea.

 

Dust ‘n’ time

IT IS SPRING, and that means dust, so much dust that we keep the living room windows shut.

birdBut it’s early, and we just have dust, not the black cinder shards that will fall in a few weeks more when the country people start burning their fields in earnest, so much so that you’d think we have hundreds of ravens overhead instead of the usual handful of real ones.

These charred “ravens” fall on the downstairs terraza, the upstairs terraza, the yard patio, everywhere, and all must be swept up, save those sitting on the grass. They are left in peace to dissolve.

We’re about to begin our 12th year in the Hacienda. We moved in during Springtime of 2003. I’ve never lived in any house longer. The next longest time was 10 years in Florida, from age 7 to 17, when I  finally escaped from high school and started my shenanigans which only ended in recent times. I ran out of steam.

And we’re also about to start our 13th year of marriage, our 12th anniversary being later this month. I have never been married to anyone so long. First wife lasted a bit over five years. The second about 10 years, though I lived with her nine years before we made it legal. Gotta bust that record.

I love living in this house, and I love living with whom I live in this house.

If you’re not satisfied with your situation, try and try again. In time, you will land upright, smiling.

My Haitian vacation

Fish

WHILE WRITING THE PREVIOUS post, which was for April Fool’s Day, I went looking for a black dude in a top hat for the illustration. I did a photo search for Papa Doc Duvalier, and there it was. No surprise.

Papa Doc, a nasty piece of work, was a longtime dictator of Haiti, and he died in 1971. Just four years later, I landed, traveling alone, on an Air France plane in the capital of Port-au-Prince. I had flown there on a whim after quitting my job on the San Juan Star  in nearby Puerto Rico due to an ongoing strike.

(Thanks go out to the Communist Party for that, Red amigos.)

I was footloose, in my early 30s, and jobless with no gainful employment in sight.

I had a reservation at a guesthouse. I don’t recall how I found that guesthouse or made the reservation. It’s been a long time, and the internet did not exist in those ancient days. I took a taxi to the guesthouse from the airport. I asked the cabbie who was president, and he told me it was Baby Doc, the son of Papa Doc.

Obviously, I had done little homework before flying to Haiti.

What I recall about the guesthouse, which was very nice, is that it was painted canary yellow and had a big swimming pool. The only other guests were a couple of fellows from France prowling for underage prostitutes. One evening they invited me out on one of those excursions, but I took a pass.

I remember nothing of my room at the guesthouse. What I recall is the sunny side porch where we were served breakfast eggs while a parrot sang nearby, and I remember fresh orange juice and cut fruit.

And I remember swimming solo in the pool on warm afternoons.

Taxis took me downtown, which was not far away, and I would wander through mobs of people. Once I took a jitney to somewhere, probably just so I could say I did and write about it almost 40 years later. A nice-looking passenger offered to be my “girlfriend” for a price, but I took a pass on that too.

The tongues of Haiti are French and Creole. I speak neither, and I encountered few people who spoke English. This was a major problem, of course. I had no French-English dictionary or phrase book. At one point, I needed toothpaste, and I had no idea how to ask for it. Funny what sticks in your mind.

One thing that stuck with me was a night walk through the very center of town. It wasn’t late, 10 p.m. or so, and the unlit sidewalks were strewn with sleeping bodies, homeless people, lying head to toe. The quantity was shocking, and there I was walking among them in the dark. A dictatorship is safe.

Another day, wandering aimlessly through a shanty town, I saw the word Bar at the entrance of a small cinderblock building. I entered, sat and ordered a nice cold one. There were no trappings of a bar, and the “bartender” told me he would be right back. He vanished out onto the dirt street.

About 10 minutes later, he returned with a cold beer that he had clearly purchased elsewhere, perhaps on credit. I drank that beer and paid. I did not order another because I didn’t have all day.

Okay, I did have all day, but I left anyway.

Another day, I don’t remember when or even how many days I was in Haiti, I visited the Grand Hotel Oloffson just so I could say I had been there and sipped booze in the beautiful bar. Graham Greene set much of his novel The Comedians  in the Hotel Oloffson during Papa Doc’s terrible times.

I see the hotel has dropped Grand from its name, but otherwise it looks the same.

Yet another day I went snorkling on a coral reef, motorboated there with a bunch of tourists who looked more touristy than I did with my black pirate beard. I said nothing to them, and I remember treading water on the sea’s surface, snorkle in my mouth, looking at the sinister mountains, dark and green, in the distance.

Haiti is not a happy place. Though the colors are bright, and so are the fish in the emerald sea.

* * * *

(Note: I touched on this trip in a post I wrote years go on the now-defunct Zapata Tales.)

R.I.P., Mr. Zapata

I, FERDINAND ALOYISUS Mgambamba IV, solicitor, magistrate and of Royal Blood, have been appointed to settle the affairs of Mister Felipe Zapata who died Sunday, caught in a crossfire near midnight between Federales and a Narco gang in the Bar, Cantina, Nightclub and Bordello Café Inéz at Calle Mango #45.

Mgambamba

Magistrate

After all debts were paid, and an annuity was purchased for Mrs. Zapata, there remains an estate of $19,000,000,000 in crown sterling or Canadian dollars or Mexican pesos, whichever is lower.

Mr. Zapata’s LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT states that this amount will be divided equally among all his faithful readers over the past nine-plus years.

The sole requirement for collecting this generous gift is that each of you send a cashier’s check for $5,000 U.S. dollars, as a show of good faith and to offset administrative costs, to the following address:

Post Office Box 672

Freetown, Sierra Leone

Postal Code 45698

Africa

Include in your letter all pertinent details of your personal bank account (include PINs), your Social Security number, at least five credit card numbers (Diners Club not accepted), your home address,  and whether that home has a security system and/or burglar bars.

This information is strictly routine and will pass no further than the desk of Lady Jessica Bahiti Outoulee, the receptionist and Girl Friday of the Magisterial Court in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

On receipt of the $5,000 check, your inheritance will be wired to your bank account posthaste.

Trust me on this.

Sincerely, Ferdinand Aloyisus Mgambamba IV, Esq.

* * *  *

(EDITOR’S NOTE) Services for Mr. Zapata are scheduled at noon on the central plaza.  Paramahansa Yogananda Jr. has flown in from Lahore to give readings from the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the Bhagavad-Gita.

The Rev. Franklin Graham will voice his version of things.

Mr. Zapata’s earthly remains will be cremated and cast to the Four Winds.

Survivors include 146 Mexicans, principally Mrs. Zapata who will continue to live in the Hacienda, plus a daughter and son-in-law who live in Georgia and Hawaii. And two ex-wives who knew this would happen one day.