Postcards from the End of [the] America[n Empire]

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Friday, December 2, 2016

Obscured American: Marty the Electrician, Plumber and Ex-Mortician


Within the shadow of 920-year-old Norwich Cathedral squats the 767-year-old Adam and Eve Pub. Both are spooky, inevitably. A decade ago, I was minding my own business, nursing a pint of Old Peculier, when the mugs above my head started to rattle, the ashtray flew off the bar and Lord Sheffield whispered in me ear, “Spot me a whiskey, mate?” “Sam,” as the ghost is now known, was mortally wounded in 1549 by a butcher during Kett’s Rebellion. At 28, he croaked in the Adam and Eve.

In the US of A, it’s rare to find any building that wasn’t built last week, but there’s plenty of history here too, and even my shithole of a neighborhood bar, the Friendly Lounge, has its lore.

It’s owned by two brothers, and their father was the legendary Felix DiTullio, better known as Skinny Razor. He showed Little Nicky Scarfo how to slaughter. Many Mafia targets were last seen being ushered into the Friendly, never to reappear. Maybe they have a centuries-old well in their basement too, just like the Adam and Eve?

Now, the Friendly is a scandal-free establishment, with nothing more exciting to happen recently than the appearance of ex-Phillies Garry Maddox.

“He must have some broad in the neighborhood?” someone whispered.

“No, Garry ain’t that kind of guy.”

Maddox ordered an eight-dollar drink, left a ten-dollar tip.

A year after Lord Sheffield's death, John Skelton's "The Tunnyng of Elynour Rummyng" was published. No priss, the Diss native didn't shy from an ale and piss splattered portrayal of contemporary life, and his Tunnyng gives us a rare glimpse of plebian carousing in 16th century England. (Another East Anglian, Robert Greene, born 1558, bequeaths knowing tales of hustlers, thieves and blackmail artists.) Check out these lines:

She breweth noppy ale,
And maketh therof port sale
To trauellars, to tynkers,
To sweters, to swynkers,
And all good ale drynkers,
That wyll nothynge spare,
But drynke tyll they stare
And as she was drynkynge,
She fyll in a wynkynge
Wyth a barlyhood,
She pyst where she stood;
Than began she to wepe,
And forthwyth fell on slepe.

Elynour Rummyng "lerned it of a Jewe" to thicken her ale with chicken shit, but that entire passage must be fantasy.

While others are disgusted, such good, solid types having such a great time makes me want to get pissed also. We're only here to stare at each other and palaver. Let's head to the Friendly, then, and b.s. with Marty.

Don the hunter died without saying goodbye, Felix is hobbling along after his foot operation, Tony got fired for allegedly stealing, Manon landed a better job, the sad Eagles just choked away another one and Marty, as you shall see, will be on the first stool as you walk in. At 74, the raspy-voiced man works even on Thanksgiving, and he downs a few each evening.

When Marty speaks of gravy, he means marinara sauce, by the way, and “managut” is a South Philly word.

I’ve repeatedly urged Marty to visit Sicily before he keels over. “Go next week, then come back and tell us about it. You’ll bawl like a baby, man, soon as you land!”

Once, Marty showed me on his cellphone a beaming, bare-breasted lady sitting on her living room carpet. “Would you leave this?”

Just a few days away from his New Jersey lay is out of the question for Marty.

I was born in 1942. I was raised in the 50’s, when all the girls were church mouses.

I’ve been coming to Friendly Lounge on my own since 1962. Prior to that, I’d come in with my dad on Saturday, because of the spare ribs. They had the best spare ribs in the city. Even the Chinese would come here to get them.

This place wasn’t a go-go bar per se. Around 1970 or so, we started getting dancers on Friday night. They would dance on top of the bar. There was also a little stage. One girl used to shoot ping pong balls out, and puffed a cigar.

I’ve done plumbing and electrical work for 50 years.

I had uncles who were in various trades, so I started hanging with them. One of my buddies, his father used to come in here. He was a master plumber, so that’s how I learned plumbing.

I work every day. I’m a one-man band. I do everything myself. I’ve never met anybody who can do it as good as me, and I can also do it quicker. I don’t want to get a call in the middle of night, “Hey, your guy who was here. The faucet is not working right.”

I’ve always had a voice like this. I can’t make obscene phone calls. I went from a little boy, to this voice.

I’ve been married five times. I’m just a guy that’s not happy. I got them home. I know they’re there. I’m back out at the bar, looking for another one.

You’ve got to remember, guys my age, we grew up at the beginning of free sex, drugs and rock and roll, and I tried to take advantage of it. We opened the door for free sex.

Ah, many, many women took on the attitude of guys, back in the day. They wanted to be out there and get laid also.

I’ve probably been with 130, 140. No exaggeration. That’s probably cutting it short.

I'm the very first person in the world to admit, if there's anybody in the world who should have gotten AIDS, it should have been me.

As far as unplanned pregnancies? Everyone of them!

Yeah, I got three inches cut off, so now I’ve got an even nine.

I have seven children, by three women. I have 19 grandkids, and seven great grandkids. I’m in touch with my kids every day. I don’t want to hear from them, but one or the other will call. I’m good friends with them all.

Financially, none of my kids, none of my ex wives will ever say I was bad. I was a good provider, horrible husband, good boyfriend, and probably a better father to kids that weren’t mine. I was their father figure.

I’ve always had girlfriends. I just married one off last month, in Florida. I’ve got one in upstate New York. I’ve got one over in Jersey. I still do pretty good as far as pussy.

I don’t use Viagra, or Cialis, or any of that other shit. How do I do it? I stick it in.

I’m not like I was ten years ago. That’s why they’re safe across the country now.

Some guys get nothing because they try too hard. I’ve never, ever in my life chased the cherry. I let them come after me.

Back in the day, people like Marco, Joe Mazz and all the pretty boys would try. The girls would look at Marty and think to themselves, Why isn’t he trying? What has he got? I had a wife, at home. I got nothing. That turned girls on. I didn't lie to them and say I was single. I told everyone I was married. The girls wanted the forbidden fruit, too.

I like very petite women, with long hair. Very skinny. I’m not a titty guy. Big boobs look good in swim suits and sweaters, and that’s not my playground. I’m a butt guy.

If they’ve got a little butt, they’re tiny and they’ve got long hair, they’ve got it going.

If they’re not my type, I don’t bother with them. I have no curiosity or interest at all.

I have this set of rules that I’ve followed all my life. I’m not a guy who walks around horny. Ninety percent of the time in my life, I had a wife at home. If I left the bar by myself and went home, I’ve got a piece of pussy at home. If a girl turned me on, I fuck the old lady thinking of the girl that turned me on. A dick has no conscience.

I’ve turned down more pussy than you can think. I have a set pattern. Every one of my wives, turn them around, other than the color of their hair, they all look the same from the back.

I’m very specific. Ask anybody who knows me. My first wife was Irish, black hair, 4 foot 9, very white skinned. Every one after has been under 5-3.

It’s not that I have a philosophy. It’s something that I’ve found that works for me, and when you find something that works, you tend to use it. I’m not saying it’s right, wrong or politically correct, but it works for me.

Each of my kids resents me for one thing or another. I’m not perfect, and I’ve never claimed to be. They’ve all got their issues with me, but as far as being their father, I’ve always been a very good provider, but I was always on the move.

I’ve always provided for my family. I’ve made a good living in the course of my lifetime. Money was so easy to make in the 60’s and 70’s, and rent was cheap. My first apartment was $75 a month, and Patty and I had a really nice apartment, at 6th and Wharton. This was in ’63, ’64.

I’ve done everything I wanted to do. I bought cars, boats, motorcycles. I’ve had about eight boats in my life. I lived in Florida for 27 years. There’s no sense living in Florida unless you’ve got a motorcycle and a boat.

I’ve lived in California. I’ve been to Canada, England, Mexico. Me and one of my wives, we were going to go to Rome for my 62nd birthday. I like biblical, religious stuff. I wanted to see the pyramids, the catacombs, stuff like that. But she died on me, and I didn’t go. I lost all interest.

I have a hard time speaking English, let alone various languages.

Timmy Cigar and I got into an argument with Adrian one night over the word “irregardless.” I never knew it was not a word, and I’ve been saying it all my life.

I lived in south Florida for 27 years. The only thing I know of any Hispanic language is “si.” That’s about it.

I’m a very one-dimensional person. I’m a creature of habits. I eat primarily Pat’s Steaks, after work. It’s not so much cheesesteak any more. It’s a pork sandwich with cheese on it.

When I want variety, I go to the Chinese restaurant at Broad and Federal, Mui Chung. I just call, they hear my voice and they know exactly what I want, and it’s ready by the time I get there.

I listen to all these people with the health food, and I’ve watched all the health food gurus, and the exercise gurus, died!

My teeth didn’t fall out. There is a perfect reason why I have false teeth. I had a bad motorcycle accident back in ‘74.

I had beautiful bottoms and fantastic implants, but my gums have shrunk over the years. Had to get rid of the implants. Now, I have big fuckin’ teeth.

When I go home with a chick, I pop my teeth out, I pop the eye out and I pull off the wig.

I’m not Italian, I’m Sicilian. The reason I’ve never been there is because there’s nobody I know. I’ve got family there, but I don’t know them.

To go back and see how the world was built, in old world traditions, that’s pretty amazing. I watch National Geographic every now and then, and I see how modern people are existing and dwelling in cities that are centuries-old, and how they’re adapting. I find that fascinating.

People today, their houses have a bathroom for each kid. I’m sure my Sicilian ancestors, there were probably four or five families, with three or four kids each, all sharing the same outhouse. Unless you’re extremely wealthy, there was no such thing as a 2,000-foot-square house. Only Americans need that much space.

South Philly was all Italian. You had your Irish on 2nd Street, and other types on 30th, but in between, it was all Italian. There were fights or disagreements between different factions of Italians, whether they be Sicilian or Calabrese, or whatever. That’s what made South Philly so interesting.

The way my mom prepared her pasta and meat dishes was totally different than other Italian sects would do it.

We always had a secure area here, in South Philly. We had our own market, on 9th Street. It was just a fantastic place to grow up.

The 9th Street Market started out around 1915. South Philadelphia around the turn of the century was primarily Jewish. The Italian influx didn’t really come until around 1915 to 1925.

When I was living with my parents, I grew up eating fresh vegetables, freshly killed meat. I never ate anything frozen other than ice cream.

Good Italian cooking is dying off. It’s not the same. You go to Villa di Roma when Kaiser and his kids ran it, it was good, it was fantastic. And there was Big Ralph’s and various Italian eateries. It doesn’t appear that it has changed, to new newcomers, but people who grew up here, they know the difference in the way things are made today from 50 years ago.

Today, they use convectional ovens, microwaves and not the old wooden ovens or the gas-fired appliances.

It’s the ingredients. A pot of gravy, I guarantee you, if you go to Villa di Roma, he still makes a pot of gravy the exact same way he did when he was twelve-years-old, but the ingredients have changed, therefore the results have changed. That’s why you don’t see too many old mom-and-pop Italian restaurants anymore.

With governmental regulations, you can’t have this, you can’t have that and expect it to taste like 50 years ago. I like deep red gravy. Most gravy today is pinkish. It’s not the restaurant owners that are cheating. It’s the FDA governmental regulations saying you can’t eat tomatoes raised in pig shit.

My mom and dad raised me strictly on Sicilian food. Until my mom died at 93 in 2000, she was making her own pasta, making her own gravy, every week. My mom would make gallons of gravy every Sunday morning, and she would put it in pails and refrigerate it, until the kids came over. “Come over and get your half gallon of gravy. Here, grab a couple pounds of ravioli, or meat balls, roasted pork, this, that, spaghetti, whatever it is that you like.” My mom used to make it all herself.

A couple weeks before she died, she was up at 3:30, 4 O’clock, Sunday morning, making gravy.

She'd roll out her dough, and by the time she went to church, then came back, it'd rise. She'd make managut. It's a long shell, stuffed with cheese. My mom would bake it, then put gravy over it.

My grandfather came to visit us from Sicily. He stayed here for three or four weeks. My father must have cooked him breakfast, because I can remember daylight behind the old man.

The only regret I have in my life is that my father didn't live long enough. He died when I was 19-years-old. My dad worked a lot. I didn't know him as a man. I only knew him as a father.

You can go out and have a beer with your old man when you’re 23, 24 years old. You don’t have to sit around the couch and listen to him moan and groan about work.

My father was in the funeral business. We had a funeral home. I did that for many, many years, into my 40’s. I’d do my other work in the daytime, do bodies at night.

A funeral in Europe is a celebration of somebody’s life. It’s not that they have died or expired, or got killed, it’s a celebration of their life.

In Europe, they put the grandkids on the body of the deceased. It’s your granddaddy. Say goodbye. Give him a hug.

America, they sweep it under the rug. Oh, that’s bad, he died!

Only in America do they hide death. They make death into something evil, but it’s not. Everyone of us, unless you’re an astronaut, is going to die on this planet. You’re going to need a funeral director.

The rest of the world celebrate the deceased’s life at a funeral. They talk about all the good shit the guy did, what a nice guy he was, or what a prick he was.

I’m very jaded when it comes to death, but I’m very respectful.

Party while you can. You'll throw a seven before you know it.

If you dig the above, do consider supporting this blog!

What may seem offhand is actually a lot of work. The piece above is the result of three separate meetings, with the first dating back to November 3rd. A few times, I texted Marty but he was too busy to meet.

My Postcards book will definitely come out in January. Among the blurbs is one from Chris Hedges:

Linh Dinh's Postcards from the End of America is a collection of some of the most brilliant observations penned on the terminal decline of the American empire. He gives a voice to those rendered invisible by a bankrupt corporate press. He has an unflinching honesty, refusing to romanticize the poor while also writing with great empathy about their lives. He lays bare the predatory evil of corporate capitalism, the death of liberty engendered by our security and surveillance state and the human cost of our system of inverted totalitarianism. He would make George Orwell or Joseph Roth proud. There are few writers in America I admire more.

None of it would have been possible without your continuous help, so many thanks, as always, and I will certainly keep doing this!!!


Thursday, December 1, 2016


Friendly Lounge on 12-1-16--Italian Market




Marty on 12-1-16--Italian Market

Marty, plumber, electrician and ex-mortician, will be the next Obscured American.



Terrence drawing--Italian Market

[drawn in Friendly Lounge by Terrence]




[drawn, painted and stitched by B.B.]


Tuesday, November 29, 2016



[from 3/28/14, never posted]



BLACK LIVES MATTER sign in window--Passyunk Square


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Obscured American: Dan the Cheese Counter Man

As published at Unz Review, 11/24/16:

Jokers are bad news. You don’t want to sit next to one in a bar.

This day, I heard, again, about a man who ordered ten shots of whiskey after getting a blow job, and a man who got a bullet in his ass while humping someone’s wife. “Had he shown up a minute earlier, I’d have gotten shot in the head!” I learnt of a guy who went to the movies with a rooster in his pants.

“I know hundreds of them!” Dan threatened.

Flagged months ago, Dan drifted back that morning because he just couldn’t deal with work. When I walked in around 2PM, the 56-year-old was pestering 33-year-old B.B. to go out with him.

“I don’t want to go on a date with you.”

“I didn’t ask you to go on a date. I just asked if you wanted dinner, that’s all. When are we going out to dinner?”

“We’re not.”

“We can just talk about things, as friends. It won’t be a date. We can just talk as friends.”

“I’m not your friend. You’re just some guy I know from the streets. Can you just leave me alone so I can do my work?”

“I just asked if you wanted to go out to dinner, that’s all. I didn’t ask you for nothing else.”

“I have nothing against you, but we’re not going to dinner, OK?”

“If you want dinner, I can even bring it to you. Do you respect me for that?”

“I don’t want anything from you. It’s not personal.”

“I didn’t say anything inappropriate. I didn’t say anything bad. Respect don’t cost nothing.”

When B.B. had to go to the bathroom, Dan asked, “You need a hand?”

Now, you can see why he had been kicked out, and B.B. didn’t endure all this crap for tips, either. Dan doesn’t tip. After his last cent is gone, he’ll ask for credit.

B.B. is just tolerant. To deny anyone of boozy fellowship isn’t cool, she knows.

“Oh my God, you’re showing too much leg! Cover that shoulder up! You’re too sexy to work in this bar!”

Perched next to Dan was his sister, Renee. She lives in deep South Philly with her husband, Dan and two other tenants. Recently, one of them got shit faced and mouthed off, so she punched him. That’s why her right hand was in a cast. “Only my husband can call me names,” Renee explained. “My tenant’s got a hard head and didn’t even feel it. He’s Italian. I’ve known him since we were kids.”

The punched man pays Renee $300 a month, plus $100 in food stamps. It’s a sweet deal. When Renee cooks, she cooks for everybody. I know an old man in her neighborhood who pays nothing to sleeps on a couch. The homeowner just feels sorry for him. During the daytime, though, he must disappear.

On Renee’s tiny front lawn, there’s a large American flag, plus a tribal flag. Way before the housing boom, Renee bought her three-story for only $70,000. Back then, there were many more shootings in Point Breeze.

Dan pays utilities and buys Renee cigarettes, plus some food and beer. That’s all.

Hearing of Renee’s right cross, recently-jailed B.B. said, “You could have been put in handcuffs.”

Dan pounced, “I’d love to put some handcuffs on you!”

An hour into my conversation with Dan, B.B. texted me, “Jesus Christ, he just goes on and on, and you can barely understand a word!” When Dan said he was related to Wayne Newton, B.B. shouted from the end of the bar, “Figs Newton!”

Just about every syllable was slurred or half swallowed. With his brain sloshed in Budweiser, the white-haired, moustachioed man could barely move his jaw or tongue. Dan also has no front teeth. Don’t tell me, though, that he doesn’t make sense.

In my crowd, dental care is an exotic concept. I myself haven’t seen a dentist since 2000, when I was last in Vietnam. In Friendly, I overheard a woman say, “How do you expect me to get a job with no teeth?! How will I eat?” Another, “Say goodbye to your teeth, honey. I hope you liked them when you had them.” I saw a woman in her mid 40’s spit out her false teeth, laughing at a joke, and no, it wasn’t by Dan. His jokes are never funny.

Suddenly liberated, those teeth seemed so alive on the floor, I fully expected them to declare something profound or witty, before skipping away from their flustered owner, out the door.

When Dan went to the bathroom, Renee leaned over and laughingly recounted the time her brother tried to commit suicide with a garden hose, “But don’t ask him about it. He’ll kill me!”

It was unseasonably warm, so the bar door was open. Across the street was the lottery stand with a small counter for customers to scratch their losing tickets. The couple running it are Indians from India. Dan buys $5 from them each day.

I’m three quarters Indian. I have a little bit of Irish, Dutch and German in me.

I’m descended from Pocahontas, 16th generation. You know, Pocahontas, John Smith and all that. I’m a Tsenacommacah.

The reservation is in Prince Williams County in Virginia. I go there every once in a while, when I get a chance.

I’m related to Wayne Newton.

Down there, you get everything for free. They don’t pay no taxes. They pay for nothing.

It’s not boring. They have a homecoming. They have a pow-wow.

It’s not my style of life. I mean, you’ve got to have a car. I ain’t got no car.

I’m not down there because I’m from Philly. I was born in Philadelphia.

My cousin has a store on the reservation. He sells souvenirs to tourists, but they’re Cherokee shit. The tourists don’t know no better.

This blonde gets on an airplane, right? Beautiful fuckin’ blonde! She goes up and sits in first class.

The stewardess comes up. She says, “Ma’am, can I see your ticket?”

“Yeah, you can see my ticket. Here’s the ticket.”

“Ma’am, this is first class customers only. You’ve got to sit in coach.”

“I’m blonde. I’m beautiful. I’m sitting right here. I’m going to California!”

So the stewardess says, “OK, I’ll be right back,” and she goes to get the pilot.

The pilot comes out. He says, “Ma’am, what seems to be the problem here? Let me see your ticket.” The pilot looks at it. “Ma’am, you’ve got to sit in coach.”

“I’m blonde. I’m beautiful. I’m sitting right here. I’m going to California!”

The co-pilot comes out. He whispers into her ear. She gets up and goes to sit in coach!

The pilot says, “What the hell did you tell her?!”

“I told her this part of the plane don’t go to California.”

I started working in the Italian Market in 1969, when I was nine-years-old. I worked there until I was a teenager.

Then I moved to Norfolk, VA. My brother was in the navy. I lived with his wife. I had a job at a supermarket, Farmfresh, for over two years, then I worked in a warehouse.

I was a driver for RC Cola for nine years.

Then I moved back to Philadelphia and worked at Maglio’s Sausage Company, then I worked at a body shop, then I moved to Maryland.

I worked at the United States Naval Academy for over three years.

Now I run a cheese counter in the Italian Market. I work from 7:30 to 5, and I get $65 a day, under the table. I get a half hour lunch break. I also get tips, so I make about $75 a day. I carry bags of potatoes to people’s cars. You know, wholesale.

I drink three or four beers a day because I have to deal with these fuckin’ people, black people. I hate everybody. Everybody is different. People are so fuckin’ stupid.

It’s like, they would ask for a quarter pound of American cheese. Why don’t you get half a pound?! It’s only $2! But they only want a quarter pound, so you have to cut it for them. A quarter pound! You can’t make a sandwich with a quarter pound!

“Give me $2’s worth of turkey bacon.” Turkey bacon is $3.99 a pound. “Give me $2’s worth of turkey bacon.” Why don’t you get a whole fuckin’ pound?! You’ll be back in two days!

You can’t say shit because the customers are always right.

My boss tells me, “Motherfucker, go get me a fuckin’ case of lettuce!” Who are you talking to? I’m 56-years-old, and I ain’t fuckin’ dumb. Motherfuckin’ this, motherfuckin’ that, he’s like that. “There’s a customer. Get behind the fuckin’ counter!”

After work, sometimes I go to the parking lot by the Mexican restaurant. I get me two cans of Colt-45 for three bucks, and a $1.25 container of Carolina rice for the pigeons. It’s very relaxing, just sitting there in that parking lot.

I have hemochromatosis. My iron level is 766. I have Obamacare. I also get food stamps.

I’m trying to get disability. I got shot in my leg.

He shot me with a .45. Look at this side. See that right there? That’s my artery. They took a razor and did a little slit. There are still fragments inside.

Ten dollars! A black man shot me for $10!

This happened in Annapolis, MD.

Bluegrass festival. I brought some girl to her house. It was 3:30 in the morning.

I was out partying. It was a bluegrass festival. Horseshoes, fish fry and all that.

I got her home. I said, “Look, we’re here!” She was sleeping. It was 3:30 in the morning, 4 O’clock. It was summertime, 2001.

I said, “We’re here! We’re here!” Then I felt a gun next to my head.

I was in the car. He came to the side window. I was thinking, What is this? Then bam! He shot me in the leg, then he said, “This ain’t no game! Give me your money!”

Ten dollars! I gave him $10. I said to him, “I swear to God, I only have $10. Don’t kill me.”

He took off.

They flew me in a helicopter. They took everything off, my shoes, my clothes, everything. They flew me to Baltimore, Baltimore General Hospital.

This girl I used to live with, she stabbed me in the hand. Blood was coming out like a water fountain.

Why? Because I threw a handful of change at her. I had a whole bunch of fuckin’ change. She was smoking crack. I hit her right in the fuckin’ face. I was in the bar. Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar.

She walked back to the kitchen, grabbed a knife and stabbed me.

This guy’s wife passed away. I let him live with me for $50 a week, in my apartment. My girlfriend then had a baby by him. They were both smoking crack.

I had to hide my fuckin’ money. I kept it in my pants, right under my nuts, and she still got it.

I have two daughters, from two women. My older one is 26. She’s getting ready to get married. She’s in Georgia. My other daughter is in North Carolina.

I have two grandkids, with one on the way.

I also have a son, Daniel.

You know what’s a gentleman? A guy who can look at a pussy and not get a hard-on. Maybe a gynecologist. If you can count every hair on her cunt and not get a hard-on, you’re a gentleman.

Wish me luck. I’m going to win a thousand a week for life. I guess I ain’t going to work again!


With all the things I did in my life, I’m happy to be here.

I’m a good-hearted guy, man. I’ll give you the shirt off my back.

I gave the shirt off my back, and the socks off my feet, to this person last year. He had nothing. He was homeless.

This guy wanted to give me $900 for my van, but I told him, “Just take it.” It didn’t cost me nothing. Someone had given me the van.

I’m a giver, not a taker. I’m an Indian.

I don’t let them get to me. One day at a time, man.

Isn’t life wonderful?


Sunday, November 20, 2016



[from 8/23/12, but never posted]


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Media-Drugged Zombies

As published at Unz Review and LewRockwell, 11/17/16:

According to a Nielsen study, the average American adult consumes 10:39 hours of electronic media per day in 2016, up a full hour from 2015. Each year, it increases. At 13:17 hours, blacks expose themselves to the most, with Asians the least at 5:31 hours.

During many cross-country train trips, I’ve always noticed that the calmest and most content people in the lounge car were the Amish, those with no cravings for electronic media. Their children, in particular, were always impressively serene. Instead of hunching over a private movie, or being plugged to detonating beats that irritated everyone nearby, the Amish enjoyed each other’s company. Not wedded to gadgets, they bantered or sat in silence while contemplating this earth, unfurling outside the window.

Minus sleep and work, you only have about eight hours for all other activities. If someone spends all his available time watching TV, listening to music or staring at his stupid phone, he’ll act and react according to his programming, wouldn’t you think?

After Trump won the presidency, young Americans all over the country hit the streets in protest. High school students walked out of class en masse to march. Colleges organized counseling sessions and even cry-ins. It’s quite telling, this uniform dismay. Schools indoctrinate, and colleges teach you how to self-censor.

The revulsion towards Trump is strongest among those with little to no work or life experience. Just about everything they know about the world has been programmed into them by electronic media. Their entire lives, from how they stand or walk to their barely audible interior monologues, are molded by electronic media. Their skulls are electronic media echo chambers.

If it’s cool, they’re hooked. Who cares about contradictions? In 2012, Lady Gaga visited Julian Assange at his de facto London prison. In 2013, she performed at an inaugural ball for Obama’s campaign staff. Gaga is also a long-time supporter of the Clintons. Gaga’s fans, then, can admire her for siding with both Assange and his vicious persecuters. Hillary on Assange, “Can’t we just drone this guy?”

Doped up with songs and slogans, the media-drugged can’t even register contradictions in real time.

In 2011, the Clintons threw a bash for themselves at the Hollywood Bowl. With an all-star lineup, the Decade of Difference Concert celebrated their tremendous role in improving the world. No doubt thinking of NAFTA, Kenny Chesney sang “Beer in Mexico.”

Starin’ out into the wild blue yonder
So many thoughts to sit and ponder
‘Bout life and love and lack of
And this emptiness in my heart

Dude should have changed “heart” to “pocket,” and his song’s title to “Job to Mexico.”

Lady Gaga had no problems tailoring her lyrics. Thus, her “Bad Romance” became “Bill Romance”:

Caught in a Bill romance
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh! Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh!
Caught in a Bill romance
Rah rah ah-ah-ah!
Ro mah ro-mah-mah
Gaga oh-la-la!
I want your ugly
I want your disease
I want your everything
As long as it’s free
I want your love
I want your love

In the audience, Bill, Hillary and Chelsea beamed.

Gaga’s “You and I” included this bit:

There's something about this place
Something about America
When a Clinton makes us all feel safe
Something about a cool Arkansas guy

Hillary’s 2008 run for the White House was lauded:

Hillary, sit back down where you belong
In the office, with those high heels on.
Sit back down where we watched you charm
The whole world and the country.

Similarly, Bono and the Edge dedicated their “Sunday Bloody Sunday” to Hillary:

I can’t believe the news today
I can’t close my eyes and make it go away.
How long, how long must we sing this song?
Broken bottles under children’s feet
Bodies strewn across the dead-end street.
But I won't heed the battle call
It puts my back up, puts my back up against the wall.
And it’s true we are immune
When fact is fiction and TV reality.
And today the millions cry
We eat and drink while tomorrow they die.

Though the song is about British troops slaughtering Irish civilians, it was not meant as an ironic jab at our secretary of state but a tribute to Hillary as, somehow, a peacemaker.

Just five days after the concert, Hillary would giddily cackle these words about Gaddafi, “We came, we saw, he died!” To her, it’s downright hilarious to see a foreign leader sodomized with a knife, and the pulverization of Libya was a riot, too. We eat and drink while they die.

After Bill appeared on stage with the aging U-2 rockers, they crooned “Miss Sarajevo” as the final song of the night. It’s certain that few in attendance remembered or cared that their hero presided over the systematic destruction of Yugoslavia, with its 78-day bombing campaign that slaughtered thousands of civilians. Hey, it’s a cool tune!

If you can’t see irony in Lady Gaga serenading a serial sexual predator with “I want your ugly / I want your disease,” you ain’t gonna to see ish. The audience swooned and cheered. Ditto, the next-day commentators. “I wish you were playing sax with me tonight, baby,” Gaga flirted with the murderous creep.

In this culture of endless come-ons, a cool, sexy surface is all that matters, especially to the young, and that’s why pop icons are deployed to shape public opinions. During her second siege of Washington, Hillary enlisted Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen, etc. On the YouTube front, she used lesser names like GloZell Green and Sam Tsui.

Often wearing green lipstick, comic GloZell begins each homemade video with, “Hello, this is GloZell! Is you okay? Is you good? ‘Cause I want to know!” She has an autobiography, Is You Okay? In 2015, GloZell was actually invited to interview Obama at the White House.

One of GloZell’s most popular videos shows her sitting in a bathtub. Sloshing in milk while stuffing her face with Froot Loops, GloZell blathers, “I’m going to bring home the gold!”

For a Hillary campaign video, this low-budget buffoonery is slicked up considerably. First, we see GloZell in front of a White House replica, then she jumps into a backyard pool. Bust-deep in milk and cereal, six other women perform with red, white and blue beach balls and inflatable batons.

GloZell’s pitch is predictably vapid, “I’ve met Hillary Clinton and I know for sure that she’s for civil rights, she’s for families, she’s for moms, she’s for all peoples. Here’s the way to go, hashtag, I’m with her!”

The last scene is of GloZell bottle-feeding her baby. Though she’s married and lives in an average home, this video depicts GloZell as some ghetto baby mama whooping it up at a White House.

Sam Tsui is a half-Asian Donny Osmond. Though a married gay man, his admirers are mostly teenage girls. In his Hillary video, Tsui is singing in a hipster cafĂ© and persuading a young woman to vote. Like Tsui, she’s also half white, half Asian. Targeted marketing doesn’t get any more specific. Similarly, GloZell’s mark is another black woman.

If Lady Gaga, Sam Tsui or GloZell Green can influence your politics, then you’re insane, obviously, but that’s where we are as a nation. It’s all going according to plan, including the fragmentation. When these rioting youths face a backlash from middle America, our masters will have the pretext to squash us all.


Sunday, November 13, 2016


See my "Trump and 9/11", "The Strange Death of Osama bin Laden" and interview with Rudy List.


Saturday, November 12, 2016



[Uncle Eddie]



Hillary, Obama and Giroux in window--Passyunk Square

Hillary, Obama and Giroux in window--Passyunk Square (detail)



Vote for Hillary 3



Vote for Hillary 2


Friday, November 11, 2016


Vote for Hillary



About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.