Monday, July 31, 2006


In the process of getting busted DUI, Mel, I-am-not-anti-Semitic, Gibson spewed an anti-Jewish rant, including the assertion that the Jews have caused all the wars in history, which is kind of a stretch if you want to include ancient inter-tribal warfare on the island now called Papua-New Guinea, say.

The press is taking this ranting as evidence that Mel Gibson really is anti-Jew, that he was driving along thinking all sorts of nasty things about the Jews because, well, that’s what he does.

Pud has a different take:

“You know, most people have good attributes and bad attributes. Sometimes we can really like a person and other times that same person can annoy the hell out of us. Sometimes we find ourselves thinking, and even saying, awful things about a person we are very close to. Thus the old lyric ‘You always hurt the one you love, the one you shouldn’t hurt at all…’

“Well, Mel isn’t always thinking hateful things about Jews, he thinks hateful and non-hateful things about all sorts of people, but on that particular night he had just heard about the bombing in Qana.”

“So what?” I said, “There’s lots of bombings on both sides.”

“But this was personal for Mel,” Pud said.


Pud lowered his voice. “If you print this it well be the scoop of the year. You should beware of the consequences. This comes from sources I truly can’t reveal.

“Mel has a booze/religion induced obsession with Qana. Qana was called Cana in the New Testament, and as you remember, was the site of Jesus’ first miracle. Jesus and his mom went to a wedding reception at Cana. It was such a great party that folks hung around and kept drinking and dancing and the supply of wine soon ran low.

“Mary went to Jesus and told him that the host, their dear friend, would soon be embarrassed by running out of wine. So Jesus changed some big old jugs of water into wine. The host was off the hook. In fact he was praised for serving such excellent wine so deep into the alcohol consumption cycle.

“But, Pud, what does this have to do with anything?” I whined.

“Everything,” Pud replied confidently. “Mel’s a boozer. At the Cana wedding party Jesus endorsed, hell, facilitated heavy drinking. So Cana is sort of a holy site for Catholic boozehounds. And the Israelis had just bombed it to rubble.

“Mel Gibson, this is the scoop, has invested a lot of time and money pursuing the left-over wine, you know, the stuff that Jesus made. Legend has it that there is still some of it around.”

“You’re a lying asshole,” I said.

“No it’s true. He’s obsessed—you know that look in his eye. People search for the true cross or the holy grail or Agamemnon’s nail file. Hell, the most beautiful building in Europe was constructed to house the supposed crown of thorns. It makes perfect sense for someone who likes alcohol to want to taste what must be the best wine ever produced. They say it’s stayed good for two thousand years because, heck, Jesus made it, it’s not going to spoil.

“Of course, actually getting hold of it, if it really exists at all, is an Indiana Jones kind of endeavor. Mel has a fucking team!”

“Is it just for the taste, or does a sip of the Cana-wine make someone powerful, or healthy, or saved, or even happy?” I asked

“Only someone with Mel Gibson’s faith and financial resources might ever find out.”

“How will he know if he finds the real stuff?”

“He can’t know until he actually tries it and feels the effects. Anyway, that’s why he has to keep drinking, and that’s obviously why he was pissed off at the Jews on that particular night. They bombed the wine, he was thinking, those asshole’s bombed the wine!

“So cut the poor guy a little slack. He’s on a mission.”

“Is this the same story Michael Jackson told the kids, you know, the Jesus-juice?” I teased.

“Can’t you be serious, just once?” Pud scolded.

----- o -----

Friday, July 28, 2006


One afternoon in the 1970’s I was at a Bank of America facility at Market and 10th Streets in San Francisco, monitoring the test-run of a training workshop I had helped develop.

We were interrupted by the delivery of a note to one of the dozen or so attendees, an Operations Officer from the major BofA Branch next door on Van Ness. OOs are to branch banking what RNs are to hospitals. The nice lady read the note and excused herself, saying something about a robbery.

When she returned an hour later she told us what happened: some guy gave a threatening note to a teller who gave him some minimum amount of money from her till. The robber then took the cash over to the New Accounts desk and told the customer service rep that he wanted to open a savings account. The guy was apprehended and no body was hurt.

Of course it’s funny and all, but in a way it’s kind of poignant. The robber’s goal wasn’t necessarily to “get away” with a lot of money, rather he really just wanted to participate in the American banking system. With the low rate of savings among Americans then and now, this guy’s impulse was exemplary. There were just some parts of the process he didn’t understand.

So I’m thinking that all the agencies involved got brownie points for catching this poor fellow. It was recorded as a “case solved” by that hitler-in-a-dress J. Edgar Hoover.

And the robber probably did some time. More time, I was thinking, than that greatest bank robber of them all Charlie Keating. There were lots of thieves who robbed S&Ls blind during the deregulation, including some Bush’s, but Keating was the king. Keating understood that to really rob a bank you don’t go to the teller’s window. My memory was that Keating, for whom John McCain (among others) ran errands in the Senate, never actually went to jail. So I asked Pud to check.

“Shocking, absolutely shocking!” Pud has this little dance he does when under the influence of cogitation.

“Charles Keating actually spent four and a half years in prison before his conviction was overturned. That’s the good news.

“But, get this,” Pud was trying to pace himself, “he was a goddamn Catholic who led a fucking anti-pornography crusade. This asshole wanted to take away our money AND our pornography! Well, fuck him.

“And you think it can’t get worse?” Pud asked, arms splayed to the universe, “this fucker was in cahoots with Mother Teresa, the most evil woman of the twentieth century!

“That’s right. He gave her a donation of 1.2 million dollars and she wrote a letter to the judge in his favor. Where the fuck did she think he got the 1.2 million dollars?”

“Pud,” I said in my calming voice, “Mother Teresa is dead.”

“Ding dong,” Pud said, “none too soon.”

“Oh, and did you see that Bernie Ebbers’ conviction and 25-year sentence were upheld by a Federal appeals court?”

“THAT asshole!” Pud said, “Good!”

“Keating and Ebbers will be completely forgotten by history, Mother Teresa’s name will live on as a trivia answer.”

This made Pud smile. “Good,” he said, “along with Mrs. O’Leary’s cow.”

----- o -----

Saturday, July 22, 2006


An old friend asked me recently what the word smarmy means. I use it and I like it for its huge onomatopoeic value.

I always figured the word indicated a general moral or aesthetic unwholesomeness, with hygienic or sexual connotations.

I was wrong. Smarmy refers to a particular kind of unwholesomeness. It means overly ingratiating.

The Online Etymology Dictionary gives us this.

"ingratiating, unctuous," 1924, from smarm "to behave in a flattering way" (1920), variant of colloquial smalm, smawm (1847) "to smear, bedaub" (the hair, with pomade) of unknown origin.

So I need a new word. Pervy comes close. Of or pertaining to a perv.

----- o -----

Friday, July 21, 2006


I lucked out and took a poetry writing class from Stan Rice, (late husband of Anne Rice), at SF State in the late 1960’s.

He was the most intense lecturer I ever witnessed, with the possible exception of Brother Antoninus. (BTW: When it comes to poets, Brother Antoninus/William Everson was the real deal.)

Stan would put some notes on the teacher-table at the front of the room then start pacing, alternately searching deep space, then referring back to the table, as if it held a large, possibly dangerous animal from a newly discovered species.

He would attempt to describe this new entity with deservedly new language, which he was making up ad lib. He was in a trance-state like the swingers at Delphi. And the words came out in trickles, spurts and gushes, all original stuff.

Anyway, the one piece of advice I took away from his class is:

When you have trouble finding the right word for a thing, focus on the thing, not on the words. If you look hard enough, long enough, at the thing itself, the word(s) will come.

He referred to this as “vision.” This is the most important thing I learned in college.

Stan Rice died of brain cancer. Everyone who knew him assumes it was caused by overuse.

I wonder how much of Anne was Stan. An English professor at SF State wrote a scholarly book in 1969 about vampires in literature. This professor was having an affair with a roommate of mine so I got to know him at the kitchen table, me a true snot-nose.

I was coming out gay and exploring sexuality at the time so I was happy to discuss my interpretation of vampirism with Leonard. My roommate, who proofed his book, says I’m quoted in it.

Anne’s first vampire book came out in 1973. So we can’t discount the notion that I somehow influenced her and through her popular culture. If I ever read a word Anne Rice wrote, I might know if this would be a good thing.

Seems Anne went for Jesus after Stan died. Had he lived he never would have let her go down that shameful path. The main page of her website has “Ave Maria” playing in the background. See/hear for yourself.

Stan Rice liked my stuff. He gave me an A minus. On the final evaluation he wrote, “You have conquered your tongue, now you must conquer your heart.”

Heavy, hunh?

----- o -----

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Pud speaks:

There is no such thing as a rich Christian. Anyone who mildly peruses the New Testament understands this. People become rich and stay rich only if they consistently fail to follow Christ’s teachings.

So, rich people might go to church, but they don’t really believe any of it. Basically they want poor people to follow Christ’s teachings—it makes them more docile while the rich people rape and pillage them.

----- o -----

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

gdmf CROWS

Sausalito is a quaint, picturesque hillside “village” just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. A joke I heard as a kid (ca 1960s):

Q. How do they separate the men from the boys in Sausalito?
A. With a crowbar.

I don’t know if Sausalito did or does have a high number of homosexuals, but the place is definitely fruity. I’m finding the word fruity more and more useful. It has a sort of anti-pc punch because it used to be a slur. Now it’s simply descriptive, of male behavior that is annoyingly un-masculine. So it’s a put-down, but not a slur.

“So why do they call it a 'crow' bar?” Pud asked.

“Do I look like Google?” I replied. (Current events in the Middle East have me sounding more and more like a New Yorker.)

Since I started my blog, Pud’s been telling people that he’s doing “research” (sitting on my couch) for a “publisher” (me), so I figure he can start looking things up himself. He did and I’m proud of him.

“It’s not totally obvious,” Pud reported. “It appears around 1400. The nail-pulling end probably resembles a crow’s foot. Or, get this, it might be from Old French cros, which is the plural of croc, meaning ‘hook.’”

In the last ten years, or less, there have been a lot of big black birds in our ocean-beach neighborhood of San Francisco.

I notice them because I don’t like them. They’re large and nasty looking. They have the same defiance about their ugliness that hyenas have, like “What are you looking at—fuck you!”

So I’ve been asking people, “Have you noticed we’ve had crows around? We never used to have crows…”

People mostly don’t care.

Aren’t crows a symbol of death? Certainly Poe’s raven. There’s the caw caw caw at the end of Ginsberg’s Howl, or is it Kaddish?

Anyway, we got crows, we didn’t used to, and we hate them. Their droppings are enormous!

So I made Pud do some more googling and guess what—I'm not crazy. There ARE a lot more crows around these parts these days, as counted by some very nice folks just south of here.

“Crows belong to a family of asshole birds, called Corvids, which also includes ravens, magpies, jays, and nutcrackers.

“You know,” Pud went on, “the metaphor of ‘family’ doesn’t work with me. When a prospective employer says that the work group is like a family—that’s a red flag. Family members say and do horrible things to each other, things that mere friends or acquaintances, or certainly co-workers, wouldn’t dream of doing.

“So next time I hear some prick say ‘we’re like family around here’, I’m thinking—yeah, and the name of your family is Corvid.”

----- o -----

Friday, July 14, 2006


Pud is pissed.

“I try to be a good citizen,” Pud says, “I try to pay attention to the casualty reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, but the numbers just swirl around in my head.

“It’s the fucking twenty-four hour cable news and all the stuff on the internet. Plus the time difference is really difficult.

“Like, you check the internet on Monday night and read about a market bombing in Baghdad that happened Tuesday morning. Now there’s a mind fuck. And you make a mental note that 20 people died, mostly Shiite women, plus a roadside IED killed two American soldiers. Oh, and another of Saddam’s lawyers was assassinated.

“Then, you wake up the next morning, and you hear very similar sounding reports, like, a market bombing killed twenty-five Shiite women—and you think, is that the same market bombing or a new one? Or, when they say another of Saddam’s lawyers has been killed you think, ANOTHER one, or are they still talking about the last one?

“It’s the medium,” Pud says, “it’s like, hey, Microsoft Office is a SUITE—Word for prose, Excel for numbers. Prose is a really fucked up way of presenting statistical data. We need spreadsheets!

“At the very least, the vertical axis would be time. Each row representing like a day, or week, or month. Then each column could represent a type of casualty, broken down by theater (Afghanistan, Iraq, other), nationality (American, coalition, terrorist) and type (dead, maimed, other).

“As a public service they could make the statistics down-loadable, so that anyone with standard spreadsheet software could sort, subtotal, and create piecharts and Venn diagrams up the wazoo.

“With the distribution of computing power to homes and public libraries, the electorate is ready for it,” he concluded with his statesman’s voice.

So, that’s Pudinhand Wilson. While the rest of the nation is quietly downloading porn and recipes, he wants to download casualty statistics.

“And the national budget,” Pud sparked, “hell, everyone has Quicken!”

BTW: I’m trying to get Pud set up as a team member on this blog so that he can create his own posts. He told me to wait while he works on some “identity issues.”

----- o -----


In tennis, when a point has concluded, there is usually one or more balls that have to be retrieved and delivered to the person who will serve the next point. In the pros, as we see on TV, errant balls are retrieved by “ball-kids,” nee “ball-boys,” who scurry around and try to be invisible.

But for us, who retrieve our own balls, the manner in which an opponent delivers balls back to the server says much.

My standard, and, I believe, the civilized standard, is an obvious application of the Golden Rule: return the balls to your opponent in a way that is easy and convenient for your opponent. This means waiting until he is looking in your direction and is more or less expecting you to return the ball. Then, you tap the ball so that it gets to your opponent on one big gentle bounce.

There is a branch of tennis theory and practice (actually all sports) called gamesmanship. This means how to conduct the non-tennis aspects of the match to maximize your chances of winning. One such piece of advice is to NOT be polite in delivering balls back to the server.

So, when I’m the server, at the conclusion of a point, I might be facing away from the net, going back to the baseline, and two balls whiz past me, one on either side, all the way to the fence and I have to exert myself to retrieve them and pick them up.

When this happens I know that my opponent is either a dumbshit who was never taught how to act, or is deliberately following this gamesmanship advice. In the former case, which is rare, I might attempt to educate my opponent.

In most cases I respond in kind. But I don’t return the ball when the asshole’s back is turned. I wait until he is looking straight at me, then I hit the ball so that it misses him by twenty feet. Of course, I follow that with, “Sorry.”

The opponent either modifies his behavior or we have a very slow match. Either way’s fine with this old guy.

----- o -----

Thursday, July 13, 2006


This Reuters headline and teaser appeared on my Yahoo start page. I fantasize that some young reporter or grizzled editor resigned rather than write this story.

Mexico’s Calderon says to focus money on poor: report

The conservative winner of Mexico’s contested presidential election said he would pay more attention to the poor after the race showed wide support for promises to fight poverty, he said in a newspaper interview.


The story has about as much information value as our guy Bush saying he is going to be more compassionate, or a report in 1939, that Hitler says “The safety and comfort of the Jews is my personal highest priority.”

Nobody in their right mind believes in the integrity of a Mexican election. The problem is that fewer and fewer people believe in the integrity of American elections.

Globalization is touted as the eventual exportation of a First World standard of living to the Third World. But, rather, it’s about the importation of Third World conditions to the First World.

Now Stephen Hawking says that human life on earth will probably come to an end in less than a millennium. Colonization of space seems unlikely and no fun. So, the question becomes not, “Where are we going?”, but “What should we do with the time we have left?”

So some schmuck at Reuters, who’s probably really smart, and probably paying off a student loan, finds him or her self writing straight-faced stories about the self serving pronouncements of scoundrels.

It's a job, but it ain't journalism.

----- o -----

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Fifty years ago the rape charges against the Duke lacrosse players never would have been filed, at least not in any southern town. Why? Race, pure and simple. In those days a white person’s word was worth more than a negro’s. A white person’s life was worth more than a negro’s. In the south, fifty years ago, we should remind our young readers, black people were NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO VOTE!

That a negro woman would bring rape charges against privileged white boys was inconceivable. Heck, white juries in the south acquitted white guys who bombed little negro girls in Sunday school, and everyone knew it.

Sure, things have changed in the south, at least on the surface, but at a price to poor white people, a fact that liberals simply ignored. The improvement of the lives of black people in the south resulted in a net loss for their poor white neighbors. At least that is the solid perception among their poor white neighbors.

These days, political correctness has stifled the expression of poor white resentment, but not its existence, thus Nixon’s “Southern Strategy,” and today’s solid Republican south.

So, that’s why Fox News and other right wingers are so vehemently defending the accused Duke students, not because of the particular merits of the case, (we don’t know the merits of the case yet), but as a reminder to resentful white people of a better day, when negroes could be messed with no problem. Ergo, vote for reactionaries.

Norman Mailer consistently alerts us to these mainly psychological hidden issues. Years ago, in his book Why We Are In Vietnam, he told the story of white guys on a bear hunt in Alaska. Or, in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, Mailer pointed out that lots of voters secretly favor invasions and conquest and the spilling of blood in general.

Now, one of the Duke defendants has been convicted of a crime of violence in a separate incident. Collin Finnerty was apparently out drinking with some buddies and they were looking for a fight. The victim in this case was white.

Poor Collin has some sort of sex problem.

Normal young heterosexual males on a Friday night would be expected to seek the company of, and physical contact with, attractive females. Collin and his buddies were seeking the company of, and physical contact with (in a fight) other males.

To make things smarmier, during the assault, Collin was yelling gay slurs, even though there were no indications of anyone being gay or any indication of any gay anything, it’s just what came out of Collin’s mouth.

Now poor Collin has to face the gang-rape charges. Gang rape has always seemed to me to have a lot of gay content. Like, do they watch their friends actually fucking the victim? Do they look at their friends’ erections? Do they gaze at their friends’ ass cheeks clenching?

When you think about it, being a Fox News cause celebre was the last thing the Finnerty’s wanted for their son. I’m sure they wish it could have quietly gone away, even if there were some criminal penalty. But being associated with the vile White Citizens Council that is Fox News is a smudge on the Finnerty name that won’t wash out for generations.

So Collin is a victim. He’s a victim of our society’s fucked up attitudes about sex.

And his high priced lawyers can't do anything about that.
----- o -----

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


So, what exactly does Barry Bonds’ cheating and lying have to do with the collapse of a tunnel in Boston that killed a young automobile passenger?

Both stories involve cheating. Bonds apparently cheated with steroids. The Big Dig tunnel collapsed due almost certainly to corruption in its construction and inspection.

Substandard materials, counterfeit parts, non-spec construction, bribed (or extorted) building inspectors—whatever criminal activities led to the collapse all involve cheating in order to make a buck. And each of those instances of cheating should now be a charge of felony murder.

To all those who condone Barry Bonds’ cheating—take a drive through the Big Dig.

San Francisco has its own public-works-substandard-concrete scandal in the press these days. Here’s a more direct connection. Barry Bonds’ fans will have to dodge even more axel-snapping potholes on the roads leading to the ballpark.

So, cheating isn’t about some detached, lofty, moral standards. It’s about how we get through the day, with potholes, and tunnels collapsing, and our sweet high school kids killing themselves with steroids.

----- o -----

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Pud advised me not to vituperate against that lying, thieving, piece of shit Ken Lay for at least a day. “Don’t speak ill of the dead for twenty-four hours.”

“Would it be ok to suggest that the world would have been a better place if Ken Lay had never been born?”

“That would be ok,” Pud said, “but only marginally true. Just don’t call him an asshole and stuff like that, until the little hand has gone around twice.”

“How about if I advocate that his wife and kids be forced to give back all the money he stole?”

“Of course,” Pud said, “there is no justice until Ken Lay’s estate is reduced to zero. His wife and kids are entitled to nothing, except maybe the equal opportunity promised to all our citizens, and the protection of the minimum wage laws.

“Every fucking dime! They have to give it all back.”
----- o -----

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Pud cooked for the holiday. Burgers, dogs, Doritos and watermelon. Pud is adamant about Doritos. They sound foreign but Pud says they’re 100% American, “Like the Gadsden purchase.”

Potato chips, according to Pud, are the most insipid food product ever foisted on a great people. “Our forefathers sacrificed, they fought, they died, and it wasn’t for goddamn potato chips!”

He can be doctrinaire. Pud does tortilla chips, Pud does Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. He has awful things to say about Tennessee whiskey, “No self respecting transvestite would go near that shit,” or, “It killed Janis Joplin, it’ll kill you, too.”

Same stuff every Fourth. The big change this year was we had the very finest American cheese slices. Pud was proud, he wanted us to eat our first burgers before we got too drunk, so we could appreciate the rich, full body, and dry non-oily texture of the real thing.

“There are different grades of fake cheese,” Pud expounded, “and they fall along a spectrum. One end of the spectrum is ‘cheese’ and at the other end is ’fake’.

"Actually, the various grades are based on the main ingredient. At one end of the spectrum the main ingredient is cheese. The product at this end is called ‘pasteurized process cheese’. At the other end of the spectrum the main ingredient is petrochemicals. At that end the product is called ‘imitation pasteurized process cheese food’.

“You’ll notice that the good stuff is packaged in one stack. The cheap stuff comes in individually wrapped slices, as oily and slick as the cellophane wrappers. The reason they’re wrapped singly is because they’re an unstable chemical suspension. If you put all the slices together, the slightest exposure to air would turn them back into a lump of coal.”

Pud held up a bottle of Old Grand Dad and pointed at the drawing, “I wouldn’t serve this distinguished gentleman that slimy crap on his burger, so I ain’t gonna serve it to you guys. You are great Americans.” [Actually the usual motley group.] “And you deserve great American cheese.

“Happy fucking Fourth!”

----- o -----

Monday, July 03, 2006


The parents of Collin Finnerty showed up on TV the other day supporting their son’s defense against rape charges in the Duke/Lacrosse scandal. Collin is the defendant who has a previous case pending for gay-bashing.

The parents were certain that their son did not rape the stripper. No one seems to deny that these college jocks hired a stripper. No one seems to question the propriety of college students hiring strippers. No one, that is, but Pudinhand Wilson and I.

“What’s up with students hiring other students to be strippers?” Pud asked.

“If there are fellow students in such poverty that they would consider degrading themselves by stripping for cash, it seems that these fine young men, as we’ve heard they are all fine young men, would have found a way to help such fellow students, and not have taken advantage.”

“I thought that’s what being a Christian nation is all about.”

“It’s like the parents are saying, ‘We raised our son to always show respect to the sex workers he hires’.”

“Illegal immigrants, college kids hiring strippers,” Pud made his grand two-armed sweep, “it’s about slavery. The desire to own slaves is alive and well in the heart of man.”

When Pud and I were in college we barely knew where our next bag of dope was coming from let alone having the wherewithall to hire a stripper. The kids we hung with were more likely to do the stripping than the hiring. I feel this same dichotomy even now when I’m taken to a fancy restaurant: I identify with the serving staff much more than with my fellow diners.

I guess that’s how I wind up with friends like Pud.

Thank God!

----- o -----