The Crass Menagerie

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Location: The Promised Land

This is my triumphant return to the lifestyle I've always furthered and forwarded in my heart, at least, so let's blast off. The first half of my life has been incredible and the second segment will include more splendors than any Ottoman Sultan could ever have wished for in his golden repose. Anyway, fasten your laughter belt cuz you're on a collision course with wackiness.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

El Baloney, to you

"Brave the storm to come..." It's a perfectly cool and gloomy day here which is a fine excuse to recline with the laptop and spin yarns. World cup withdrawal is in full force since this is the two day break before the quarter finals which start tomorrow so I only have Wimbledon. Even then, they mainly cover the smattering of Chilean and Argentinean players but it's available drama and I accept. Viva Fernando Gonzalez, who defeated the evil Russian, Marat Safin, today in five sets so there was much national rejoicing. Anyway, pictured here, as promised, is cousin Nata who shares my sense of humor; no easy match in these parts.

Lying under the volcano
Can sometimes invite trouble
Los straightjackets for the insane-o
Keeps the palace above the rubble

I don't know if she can get behind me on that one but here are a couple of crippled haikus:

Spending here and there
Trying to save my spirit
For the final act

Needing to be young
Whatever the needle says
Time to act foolish

I'm listening to a Dead show from 6/29/76 at the Chicago Auditorium and we hope TCM (The Crass Menagerie- don't sue Mr. Turner) has readers in the city by the lake. Anyway, I thought about the babies born during these couple of hours and that they'll turn 30 today. I also wonder if the mothers back then were hoping to hold out a few more days until the Fourth of July and say their little package came the same day as the nation's bicentennial or if they were just trying to drop that load as quickly as possible during a hot summer. My own memories of 7/4/76 were basically ones of anti-climax but I don't really know what a kid was supposed to expect. The TV showed a bunch of tall ships in the harbor next to the statue of liberty and a bunch of colored smoke poured through the air and I didn't feel any different. I guess as a (almost) twelve-year-old I expected to feel some transformation and couldn't believed it turned out to be just another day (sorry Jim, I know it was your fourteenth birthday-- what do you remember?). I reckon it was just another lesson about getting caught up in the hype. I'm still reinforcing that one but I think I'm improving.
Man, is the Thin Man tall, or what?

Monday, June 26, 2006

War and Piece

As can plainly be observed, I had a difficult go of it in Valparaiso the last couple of days but survived and now I'm all the stronger. In truth, it was a terrific weekend on the coast which reminded me that Santiago is not all of Chile, even though it seems like it sometimes. I also learned that crutches can be a valuable source of respect and income. Not really but it's strange to see other people's reaction to me when I don't feel all that different. Anyway, the winding, cobbled streets of Valpo and Vina del Mar possess an old world charm that makes me want to sit down and have a drink with the entire country, twenty at time. Tia Gloria has a beautiful condo in a high rise that sits above a little lighthouse and a rocky strand beyond which any number of tall ships circulate and feed the world, guided in part by the Southern Cross which I saw on Sunday night. And now let me introduce our players. That's cousin Felipe encouraging me to walk like a man and that crutches are a bad habit. Below, the generous gentleman, or caballero, is played by Marcelo but no one calls him that. He is known as El Flaco but just plain Flaco will do which means thin or skinny. He's a strange bird but a great fellow and a good friend of the Aguirres. You definitely want him on the team. Cousin Natalia has been behind the camera for me here the whole time and will be featured in her own way in the near future.
Driving back today we climbed the hills toward the big city, passing through some of the richest wine country and sprawling vineyards among the occasional palm and eucalyptus which filled the air with some of the finest perfume that a bottle could never contain. Writing about a sunset can be fatalistic but tonight's was in the top ten of all time and just wouldn't quit, wave after wave of shifting, amazing color that filled the bowl that forms the metropolis.
One of the first acts I'll undertake when I'm able is to listen to the Sex Pistols at extreme volume and jump and thrash and smash something tasteful. It's funny the things you miss when they're taken from you.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Cohete Hombre

Greetings, people of earth. This cool sculpture is in my doctor's office and, frankly, it filled me with confidence. I like the man. Strangely, when he wrote Joseph Aguirre on my prescription it looked almost exactly like my dad's signature Jose Aguirre if you covered up the ph. I guess handwriting is a national tradition passed down here. A freak heat wave swept in today and it didn't feel like winter at all with the temp getting up to around 70. Much of the haze was swept off the mountains and just about every compass point held something special. Dr. Orizola, or Alejandro as Felipe calls him, told me things look great, even though I was a little put off by the twisted angle my foot dangled at when he removed the cast. Still, he told me that I didn't have to restrict movement anymore but I didn't dance out of the office as I still have two weeks on crutches until I start rehab when they get medieval on my ass.
I regained a measure of normal life as I went to my cousin Francisca's tonight for dinner and it felt great just to get out and watch a little bit of the world go by. Also I will sleep on my stomach tonight and I rejoice because I don't think I've slept more than three hours in a row since the operation Friday as I can't sleep on my back but I had to keep the foot elevated. Ahh, I can feel comfort flowing over me just thinking about it. Fuck yeah, as they say. Team America, but the funny thing is that my cousins introduce me to people as un Norte Americano which is quite correct and I don't know where we got the idea that calling ourselves Americans was exclusive to the space between the borders of Canada and Mexico. I'm also referred to by many as gringo which suits me fine, as long as it doesn't show outwardly. Onwards and onwards as upwards we go. With my clean report from the doc we'll be heading out for a long weekend in Vina del Mar which holds many delights. More than ever I'm reminded that... "someday, everything's gonna be different, when I paint my masterpiece." Thank you, Mr. Dylan with a smile and a nod to Los Muertos Agradecidos. Translate that one!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Give my Regards to Broadway

The sun has broken through the clouds this afternoon and light fills the room in the apartment of my aunt Gloria, one of the angels on my shoulder.
Santa Gloria, Santa Natalia, and San Felipe are taking great care of me and taking arty pics of my post-surgery recoverings. Funny thing, they have commercials here with a bunch of computer animation to recruit people into the Chilean Navy. Some things are universal, I guess. Maybe I'll join up. It looked exciting. I can see myself in the high seas wrapped around Cape Horn and Tierra del Fuego while I protect Patagonia from the Antarctic penguins. Hey, that's surely just as important as guarding Tikrit from a fruit stand with a grenade launcher.
Last night we had another tremor and this one lasted about fifteen seconds. As it got a little interesting, I realized I didn't have an escape plan and that maybe I should drag myself to the doorway but in the end I just decided to go with the flow. I managed a bath which led to more national rejoicing so we now look to the future, Mr. Geddes, the future. The solstice is upon us which is a perfect time for new beginnings, whichever hemisphere you're in so go out and bang a gong or a drum or, for gosh sakes, bang something. I can't keep giving you these free lessons.
The sun is setting over the foothills to the west and lighting the mighty, snowcapped peaks to the east. But enough words. Actions speak louder than so action... now.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Santiago, Under the Volcano

We just had a nice tremor here that shook the apartment for a few seconds and I hope that settles the issue. I spent the last night at La Clinica Alemana after Dr. Alejandro Orizola Molina (pictured here at my initial examination)reattached my Brad Pitt tendon (he played Achilles in the piece of shit "Troy"). By midday I was released and watching golf and futbol but the medication didn't pack enough kick for the likes of the Rocket Man, my new nickname down here. I had my cousin Natalia call the doctor and get me something that a junkie might pop for a chaser. I expected just another pill or two but there are little differences here. Example: When she came back she had a syringe and the next-door neighbor who is a nurse and she stuck me. And I ain't talking about no paper cup, I'm talking about a glass of beer. The whole episode took about half an hour to resolve and I watched the courageous U.S. team show twice the heart of their Italian counterparts and escape with a 1-1 draw against all odds. Hopefully the worst of the pain is passed but the operation was pretty wild. After they numbed the lower half of my body (and I would choose death before I would remain as a paraplegic, I can now confidently state) I fell asleep on my own on the table and had some "All that Jazz" style hospital dreams. At least that's what my inner-eye backwards-type vision replays.

Now the first night after comes to a close and I feel a major relief that the deed is done and I can focus on ... so many roads to ease my soul. It's good to be a hippie. Another benefit of being here is the winter solstice is only a few days away and short cool days are perfect for rebuilding a wounded spirit. I've always loved stepping out of one season and into another with just a flick across the tropics and the southern cross pointing the way. Every time I've come here I've had a special, magical moment or two watching the sunrise over the Andes prior to landing and this trip was no exception. The sky was the most intense orange I've ever seen in contrast to the light blue reflections in the snow on the mountains and Mount Aconcagua (highest peak on the continent) casting a giant presence on the Argentinian border at the top of the sky.

Faces of Chile
Reminded that I'm a half-breed
Where does the blood go?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Well, buenos dias!!

"God save the Queen" has just broken out among the crowd in the football match between England (Inglaterra, en espanol) and Trinidad and Tobago. I admit it, I like Beckham. He likes to play and you can see in the demeanor that the game is the most important thing to him. I was just watching a replay before of the "Thrilla' in Manila" or Ali /Frazier 3 and thought about poor Joe Frazier and the mighty Cassius who possibly ruined sports media for all time and was one of the poorest sportsmen the world has ever known. I'm not questioning his determination or skills; I think he was one of the three greatest fighters of all time but he basically did everything but call poor Joe a nigger. This is the man who lit the torch in Atlanta? I've got no problem with his concientious objector status; I applaud it but I think it disqualifies you for national hero status. I don't know how this started, I was going to talk about the fight, not take on Clay. I watched the fight again and at the end of the fourteenth round I knew that Joe was going to his corner and would not come back. I wanted to see his face when he told his manager that he didn't have anything left. I know how much he wanted to beat Cassius Clay to a pulp and that he literally gave every ounce he had and conciously knew he was defeated. His whole life to that minute came to that and he was competely spent and the totality of that hit me. What a feeling to devote months and years of physical and mental battery and come so close to the top and to KNOW that he couldn't go three more minutes. It struck me that even defeat could be enjoyed if you truly tried every possible thing to succeed. Joe Frazier OWNED that pain, it was his for all time. The joy comes from the total effort. What I saw in that corner was a tremendous heart and I think I admire Smokin' Joe more than ever.
Meanwhile, I see the doctor here today and he is a famous sports physician who has operated on Ivan Zamurrano and Marcelo Salas, two of Chile's most famous football players and Nicolas Massu who won the gold medal in tennis at the Athens games in '04 so I think I'm in good hands. Hey, if you go to another country for bargain basement surgery, you might as well get the best. It's almost the equivalent of me seeing Dr. James Andrews in the States who does all the baseball and American football operations. Anyway, I'll be examined and then he'll tell me when we cut and I hope it's today. Rehab is an ugly thought but if you have to do it you should get it over with as soon as possible.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Southern Man

This is, or was, my ACHE-illes tendon! Hiyuk! Broadcasting from Smyrna, Georgia, I stopped at this substation before spanning the globe to provide myself a constant variety of human drama. Here's an exerpt from my chilling flight here yesterday:
Flight 152 rides the wind to the east and golden sunlight beams behind us. Intermittent white clouds sit on an invisible cookie sheet of pressure and rise on the afternoon heat with their shadows making leopard spots on the brown earth. Sloping back down the other side of the Continental Divide the land starts to flatten and the stark features fall away. Already I anticipate the wetness of the east and hope that I might see a thunderstorm or feel the ions charging as the lightning gathers the elements on its path to the absolute. Santiago sits to my right, six thousand miles to the south and the onset of winter and their wet season has taken hold. Perfect.
It would be hard to rant 'cuz it might sound bitter but I'm not there yet, one of the other, more confused, early stages. This is new stuff now, I'm on the ground and in the home I moved in to in 1969 at the same time they were setting up the stage at Woodstock. My mother brought me a lighter with a motorcycle on it. Now I sound like Andy Rooney. Eesh. The Dallas Mavericks are pounding the Miami Heat in the NBA finals and tropical storm Alberto is beginning to lash the west coast of Florida. Thus concludes the time capsule portion of our show. I guess a date is already attached to this but visuals always work better on the memory, mine anyway. I must have more ice cream. So begins another adventure.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Los Straight Jackets, the real kind

Here I go, faced with the prospect of surgery in a foreign country which should alarm anyone in these United States, the land of the medical casino. Last night I dragged my gimp ass into Dodger Stadium because Pedro was pitching for the villain Mets so I had to learn to navigate the crutches very fast and what better place for that than a tiered stadium and seats in the middle of the aisle with a sellout crowd in place to witness the mighty clash of Titans. It was a mighty struggle for me but I thought it would make a good story to go out to voice my vote against Pedro. It was my first live encounter with the clash of the polar metropolises that keep North America pinned to the globe where the sides don't curl up. Talkin' about L.A. and NYC, of course, and the animosity was fresh and got fresher as the beer went down. I was dry myself as I didn't want to risk a trip to the bathroom so now I know how some disabled folk feel (Timmy!) and I felt my courage was all the greater and what a great example I set for the kids as they buried their greedy, ravenous, little faces into little mounds of pure spun sugar while their swarthy parents poured gasoline in the form of Coca Cola to wash it down and percolate like liquid magma headed straight to the acivity zone and I've really lost where this was going. Going to the game was the right thing to do.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Blender is the Night

Does anyone remember the TV show from the '70s by Mel Brooks called "When Things Were Rotten" and starred Dick Gautier as Robin Hood and no doubt Dick Van Patten was in there somewhere, Friar Tuck most likely. I don't really know what made me think of that. Couldn't have had anything to do with my impending surgery which will be performed by Dr. Nick Riviera, no doubt, perhaps in a spiffy joint like this one in New Mexico where I stayed one night. A big woman with a lot of make-up checked me in and she was smoking in the office/lobby which I really liked and it struck me that this was the first non-indian owned motel that I'd stayed in in a long time and I figured that was why there were a lot of white truckers staying there. Anyway, now I know what it's like to fall in the mud and get kicked in the head with an iron boot... but that never really happened to me or anyone, I'll speculate, but I make no apology for my action and I egg myself onward. What passes next will be a whole new penguin which is an expression I coined just now but I have to go full force and I really don't know how that will work as I seek the knife as soon as possible so I can move on and start dancing at weddings and funerals again. I'd started to insert a description of the operation I'm to have but it made me queasy and I didn't want to inflict you, the reader, furthur. Your welcome. You're welcome. They could one or both be correct, you know. All right, Uncle Rush needs his pill so I've gotta start the twelve step process of getting up and about on crutches at 4 in the morning without waking anyone. May God guide the rubber tips. Man, am I set up for irony or what?

Sunday, June 04, 2006


The opposite of the zen saying, "...when you get to the top of the mountain, climb higher" would have to be "...when you get to the bottom, sink lower" but I feel a major responsibility not to devolve into sorrow and pity but try to enjoy the ride back up. Today I'm pretty sure I ruptured an achilles' tendon and that is going to make life a bit more trying as I thought I had just gathered all the pieces for reassembly. Blast it all, it's old news now and we move forward as best we can.
The locals here swelter under a heat wave but to me it just feels like the onset of summer. I truly will miss precipitation in some form for the next few months but have fast forwarded through the sacrifice already and wondered...