Jill Stein

Jill Stein
Go Green, Amici

Our motto ...

Leave the (political) party. Take the cannoli.

"It always seems impossible until it's done." Nelson Mandela

Right now 6 Stella crime novels are available on Kindle for just $.99 ... Eddie's World has been reprinted and is also available from Stark House Press (Gat Books).

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Book Reviews: Mad Dog Barked, Rick Ollerman … Jungle Horses, Scott Adlerberg … The RNC Convention … Hillary’s Wikileaks Problem …

Amici:
Mad Dog Barked, by Rick Ollerman … There’s a lot going on in this baby, including protagonist Scott Porter’s being the owner/boss of his private-eye business and having more than a crush on one of his operators (Trudy) … one problem with that relationship is Trudy’s husband, a cop who doesn’t do right by his beautiful and very smart wife, but does provide the occasional police research for the agency to stay in his wife’s good graces.

Problems evolve and keep the thriller ball rolling when a client comes in, lays down a fat check, and then hands an original Edgar Allen Poe book with a handwritten letter inside that reads like jazz scat. Then the client takes off and winds up dead. So does his personal secretary, a guy watching his house (his head gets caved in) … and so the carousel of thrills and dangerous liaisons begins. There’s a hitman from up New England way, a guy working for the mob up there named Gallo. He’s after the letter more than the book, and he’s willing to kill for it. There’s also an employee or two who aren’t as dedicated as Porter is to his work/business (or theirs). Deals are made, people die, and then enter the FBI. There’s a touch of the Whitey Bulger story that comes with the FBI and although Porter could just hand over the letter and walk away from everything, paid in full, he’s one of those types who doesn’t like to skim on a job.

There’s a lot of action between the very clever dialogue and it flows fast and furious as we speed toward a major confrontation.

Ollerman has the goods and this one could make a few best-of lists, including some award nominations, if the cards are dealt fair and square.

Mad Dog Barked is a clever ride of a thriller that will keep you reading start to finish. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.



Jungle Horses, by Scott Adlerberg … Arthur has dreams of wild horses running through jungles … these are some of the thoughts he has since he’s gone impotent and can no longer service and/or enjoy sex with his wife … it isn’t a problem for her (Jenny), she’s got a lover (Vaughn) … he’s wealthy and he lives across the street … Arthur has been cuckolded; he accepts the life arrangement he finds himself in … Arthur likes horses more than sex, especially thoroughbreds, almost as much as the horses in his dreams … those dream horses, by the way, are what once excited his life in a very sexual way with Jenny … but now all he does is gamble on horses (and it was here that I was reminded of my own horse-betting quirks on Sunday mornings before leaving for Manhattan and stopping off at Belmont on the way back home; Arthur has all the gamblers quirks) … Arthur’s wife doesn’t know he’s gambling (she assumes he’s just a drunk hanging out in pubs all day), so when he loses big, he borrowers from a bookie/loan shark … and when he gets in over his head, as all inveterate gamblers eventually do, the muscle shows up … but a deal is struck, and although Arthur wonders whether his wealthy friend Vaughn (who is having quite a life with Arthur’s wife, Jenny—they also go to the opera, dinners, etc.), is just looking to get rid of him when he offers to pay the freight on the gambling debts and send Arthur off to a topical island to tend to some other kinds of horses. Arthur leaves his wife and Vaughn and the thoroughbreds behind in London and it’s at this point we get into the mystic. Although I’m not usually a fan of the mystic, it was the absolutely smooth and beautiful pros of the author that kept me engaged throughout. Adlerberg writes smooth, elegant narrative. No spoilers here … but I was genuinely enthused each time I picked up the book to continue reading. Real good stuff, amici, and Highly Recommended.



The RNC Convention … well, we’ll hear their platform is about as medieval as it gets, but let’s face it, nobody pays attention to party platforms, least of all the election winner. If I’m not mistaken, the winner takes the party platform list into the bathroom the day after the election and wipes his/her ass with it … and what the Orange Blowhard had on stage in Cleveland the last night, cheering for a man proud to be gay … cheering for new trade agreements … cheering for a black employee of the Trump organization … well, I guess they were going to wipe their asses with the platform list way in advance of election night.

So it goes.

I watched bits and pieces of all four nights, most of the big speakers (minus Chachi and the Italian fella from some soap opera—oy vey). I’m pretty sure most Republicans, and most voters in general, kind of wish either of the Trump boys were running rather than their father. Both rich brats were completely polished and apparently knowledgeable (at least about what their father obviously is not knowledgeable of). The most striking part of either speech was Eric Trump alluding to a blue collar billionaire with a degree in common sense. Now don’t get crazy on me, I haven’t lost my mind. I don’t agree with 75-90% of what either Trump boy had to say, but how they said it was impressive vs. any political speech I’ve heard, including some of Bernie’s … and there’s no denying that it’s the Harvard & Yale degrees that have us where we are right now. That FACT is just undeniable, like it or not.

I’m writing this Thursday night (as the convention progresses), so I’m still waiting for the Orange Blowhard … and let’s face it, he can blow it “big league” tonight, so let’s wait and see.
One can only hope he doesn’t come down from the ceiling on a cable (ala fart man)… or if he does, that the cable snaps and one of his two rich brat sons do get to take his place.

All the controversy over Melania’s plagiarized speech was okay the night she spoke and some of the following day, but eventually the Trump campaign managed to find a scapegoat (I wonder how thick her envelope was). Nobody was fooled by the screw-up. It was outright plagiarism.

Last night Pence was Pence, and a bit of a surprise regarding his humor. It was delivered well, but CNN kept running his most infamous statements along the bottom of the screen while he spoke. One has to wonder if that same methodology of media agenda will be present when the Democrats meet next week. I’ll be watching, that’s for sure. I can think of some pretty good Bernie lines about Hillary Clinton I wouldn’t mind seeing along the bottom of the screen (to be fair, of course) … and now that wikileaks has left a huge turd in the DNC’s cereal … well, we shall see.

So, until later tonight, I’ll say they get a grade of B. Not for the bullshit they were selling, but strictly for the presentation and how I think independents will react to their convention and candidate.

Okay, it’s started … so far the two openers are losers (Falwell’s son and Sheriff Joe the maniac). Bad, bad, bad, but you’d never know it from the reactions of the yahoos.

Casa Stella Time out … we went out to the Jacuzzi to help my sore back, but we’re back in time for Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee … she’s actually talking about Trump uniting the American people … I’m guessing she smoked a crack pipe before she stepped on the stage … another bad, bad, attempt at a Trump makeover.

Another dud, Mary Falin, Governor of Oklahoma, speaking religion … don’t mind the religion so much, but it’s boring right now. At least she’s addressing minorities, but the crowd doesn’t seem as enthused about that at all.

The Make America One Again convention has a distinct pale to it (i.e., they’re mostly white) … I guess they didn’t notice there weren’t enough token minorities in the crowd. On the other hand, next week America will be presented as “forget what I said about Barry in 2008, I love him now … and he loves me … and I love all of you people—ah, I mean African-Americans and Latinos.”

Reince Preibus … oy vey … NEXT?

Finally, PETER THIEL ... okay, I don't believe in capitalism, but THIS GUY IS GREAT ... he's kicking HRC's incompetence all over the place. How do we get him to go GREEN?

Tom Barrack … very good speaker … good stories … true? Untrue? I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Who better than Mickey Donovan to introduce the Orange Blowhard! You gotta love it ... in a comical way.

Ivanka … good presentation, except for calling Daddy “honest” … oy vey.

The Orange Blowhard his own bad self … it’s not a speech most pundits will care for, but middle America and many independents will eat it up. He stayed mostly on script, and although it went long, the blowhard delivered to those who accept him and probably to those who want something other than another Clinton and/or a Clinton who recently should’ve been indicted.

Hillary’s Wikileaks problem … well, let’s just say the next week will be very, very, very interesting.

—Knucks

Interview with a Charlie Stella … The Pulse’s, Ken Cail interview the Ugly One (moi) … Part I …


Part II

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Bill Maher, the ultimate Ivory Tower Bubble Boy …

Amici:
Bill Maher gets on my nerves. Even when I agree with him, which is probably 65-80% of the time, his arrogance, enforced by his Real Time bully pulpit, often makes me want to reach out and smack him. When he cuts people off, and/or pulls his rich boy tough act, I find myself thinking: This punk must’ve been tortured as a kid in high school.

And I could be wrong about whether or not he was tortured in high school … so it goes.

Maher loves to castigate those of us who refuse to accept the rampant corruption within the Democrat Party, especially Bernieorbusters. I wrote a response to one of his childish rants against Bernieorbusters (click on this link), because taking advice from an Ivory Tower liberal just doesn’t cut it for me.
 
That was then, and this is now … well, last night anyway.

Last night Maher became the ultimate bubble boy, a derisive term he uses to describe Republican supporters (i.e., they’re living in a bubble and do not deal with reality). While I probably agree with him about that at a much higher percentage than average (85-95%), I’ve come to conclude that so does Maher live in a bubble.

Last night Maher not only defended Hillary Clinton on her email fiasco (without ever mentioning the lies she was caught telling—that was NEVER discussed as a possible reason most people (67-70%) don’t trust her), he also said something like this: “And liberals who say they have to hold their nose to vote for her are wrong.”

Really? I guess living in an Ivory Tower, and shielded by the bubble of sycophants in his audience, precludes him from smelling the stink of her allegiance to every special interest under the sun (to include Monsanto and oil companies just wild about fracking). Isn’t Maher supposed to be big on the environment and/or the labelling of GMO’s?

To be fair, he did say she wasn’t his first choice (he too was a Bernie supporter), and that she isn’t perfect. On the other hand, he defended her as if her track record on everything, including her countless political flip-flops, was something any liberal voting for her shouldn’t hold their nose about.
Really, Bill?

Ever hear about her support for wars ... all wars? How about her regime change fetish that has much to do with the chaos the world now experiences? Is she EVER going to release her Wall Street transcripts?

Maher is also of the opinion that “third party candidates will never win a presidential election.” Another naysayer who insists we should live with the corruption that best suits our purposes, as if there are no other choices. The problem with that opinion, of course, is that Bernie Sanders just proved that not only do we not need corporate control of campaign financing, millions (13+ million without counting caucus states) of people are ready to make the change. Now, had Bernie walked away from the Democrat Party last week (or if he does so after next week), Maher and the rest of the naysayers would get a taste of a true political revolution. Since Sanders endorsed Clinton, a large percentage (I don’t have the exact numbers) of Sanders supporters have switched (or intend to switch) allegiance to Jill Stein and the Green Party. Her donations went up over 1000% over a 24-hour period. And, yes, I’m one of those who donated … twice so far.
My anger at Bernie remains in his reluctance to continue a true political revolution by leaving the counterrevolutionary party that sabotaged his campaign. The Democrat Party, no matter how thick the bubble you choose to envelope yourself within, is a corporate party that has become corrupt to the core. If you can’t see that, you don’t want to see it. If you’re fine with that, then it should be the party of your choice, but to suggest that the Democrat Party is the lesser of two evils, and that’s why you should vote for a person 56-60% of people polled last week believe should have been indicted under the Espionage Act, is to not only sit inside a bubble, it’s closing your eyes while doing so.

In any event, why vote for something that requires you to hold your nose when there are people running for office you can actually support with passion? Why assume that either of the two counterrevolutionary parties be embolden (with your vote) to forever suppress a third party candidate? Why accept the shit being thrown in your face year after year after year?

—Knucks

Fight for the Greater Good … don’t be a Lemming …

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Book Review: A Murder of Crows … Speaking of Cally … She wasn’t under oath? … The Bernie Sanders Blues …

Amici:
A Murder of Crows, by Terrence McCauley … espionage, baby, espionage … think the Bourne stuff … or James Bond … but notch it up a little to present day terrorism/anti-terrorism and the infighting that goes on between government agencies (is that why the FBI didn’t put the principal defendant in a criminal investigation under oath?) … but any disassociation with reality, which is my won’t to do when it comes to espionage and/or sci-fi, was quickly put aside because of the recent research I’ve done in regards to a possible project of my own. The technology available to the various agencies are extremely sophisticated and all too real.

So, there’s a secret/not so secret organization a step or two ahead of the CIA, DIA and NSA and the Mossad, except it’s like a private Mossad that often finds itself up against players with the same goal, but playing for a different team. It’s like when NHL players are involved in international tournaments and somebody like Steven Stamkos can find himself playing against Victor Hedman or Ryan Callahan (but normally, they’re playing for the same Stanley Cup Championship as members of the Tampa Bay Lightning).

James Hicks works for The University (that secret/no so secret organization) … and he’s recently captured a real bad guy, Moroccan terrorist, Bajjah—responsible for a biological attack in New York City. Unfortunately, the Barnyard (the CIA), the DIA and the Mossad know about the capture, which took place in Philadelphia. Hicks and his rather hedonistic partner, Roger, have Bajjah ... and they’re busy interrogating him. They get him to give up a few names, (or do they?), but the Mossad and the CIA want him also. Deals have been made, but deals are often broken under the guise of national interest.

Hicks is after Jabbar, a Bin Laden type of leader in the terror hierarchy … but Jabbar has been expert at ducking the laws of all the major nation states and their national security agencies. So, how does this secret organization (The University) stay a step or two ahead of the game (and all those other agencies)? OMNI, a super high-technology communications/ research/hacking tool. It’s the kind of thing you NEVER want in your enemies OR friends hands …

A Murder of Crows takes the reader to different locations with different versions of top notch tension. I was never a big espionage fan, but I enjoyed this one start to finish … and I’m enticed enough to want to read the prequel, Sympathy for the Devil, when Bajjah was hitting New York with his special form of terror. A wild ride that deservedly earned a Booklist Starred review.


 
Speaking of (Cally) Ryan Callahan … our favorite player played most, if not all, of the 2015-16 season with a hip injury that required surgery immediately after the playoffs. Because of the surgery, Cally will have to miss playing for team USA in the World Cup of Hockey. Cally has been on two USA Olympic teams and won a silver medal in 2010. News of Cally playing injured was no surprise to most. Last year in the Bolts Stanley Cup run, Callahan was forced to get emergency appendectomy surgery and was back on the ice after missing just 1 game. The hip surgery, however, will sideline him for five months, so not only will the Bolts’ ultimate warrior miss the World Cup, he’s projected to miss two months at the start of the 2016 season. Read about his hip surgery, which was successful, here: 
 
Get some rest and heal, Cally.
 
The Scales of Justice … The FBI criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email debacle seemed a bit odd when Director Comey stated that Hillary Clinton hadn’t lied to the FBI (after listing a bunch of lies she’s told the public) because, well, she was never under oath.

Say what?

Yeah, we were a bit confused about that one too. So her “interview” with the FBI was nothing more than that … and although it is reported that the fellow who set up the personal email server at casa Clinton-Westchester pleaded the Fifth 125 times, the "no legal harm/no legal foul" FBI recommendation has left a nation stunned at what was supposed to be going on.

Investigation or dog and pony show? The fact the FBI found her statements to be out and out lies, and those same statements had been made under oath to the Benghazi committee (i.e., lying to Congress) should leave the Teflon Diva stuck with a perjury or two indictment, but let’s face it, the scales of justice tip heavy to one side when it comes to money and power, and when we’re talking about Crooked Hillary Clinton, it’s like dropping an anvil on the money and power side of the scale.

In any event, the fiasco called a democratic election continues … and although so many on both sides of the aisle fear what the rest of the world will think of an Orange Blowhard Presidency, the fact that the nomination and election process has been a total sham doesn’t seem to bother them at all.

So it goes.

We’ll be around to poke fun at the entire mess moving forward.
 
Berned, baby Berned … well, you all know where I’ve stood regarding the Bernie Sanders campaign. I wasn’t happy he chose to ignore Hillary’s emails during the nomination process (they were serious errors in judgment {committed over and over and over again} at best/and criminal is {what most believe} at worst), so he let her off the hook for that and barely touched on the Clinton Foundation scandal at the very end of the sabotaged nomination process. To be fair, Bernie always said he’d honor his promise to support the DNC candidate (long before anyone had a clue it would be Donald Trump—so, so much for it is Trump that has to be defeated—like I always say, once it comes to the actual election, lemmings on both sides of the aisle shit their pants and vote the party line no matter who is running), but Bernie really is letting us down. We, his supporters, are angry for all the abuse Bernie has taken from a corrupt party. The DNC made it impossible for him to win, and HRC couldn’t stop reminding everyone how Bernie was only a Democrat for a few months. Hmmm, it seems to us, he should remind them of that fact at the convention, and maybe add to it: “I tried it, I didn’t like it, so shove it. I’m going Green.”

Bernie achieved two major successes: he was able to expose the corruption within the Democrat Party and he also proved a candidate need not sell themselves to the highest bidders. On the other hand, his call for a political revolution is now fading into yet another call to be just another lemming after all … and for that, I’m extremely pissed off.

So, Bernie, if you’re reading this, take the coin I gave to your campaign and transfer it to Jill Stein and the Green Party. The truth of the matter is, if you really did want a political revolution, you wouldn’t cave and endorse the antithesis of a revolution.

I fear Bernie left his balls in Brooklyn when he headed north to Vermont.

—Knucks

Yesterday I re-watched The Big Short … it’s a reminder why the last person we want in the White House moving forward is someone OWNED by Wall Street …

Monday, July 4, 2016

Bill and Hillary’s Raskolnikov Problem … a fine short story by Stanton McCaffery ... Run Boy Run (movie review) ... About that nationalism fever ...

Amici:
So, Bill met up with Attorney General Lynch at an airport in Phoenix and we’re supposed to believe the lie Hillary told when she stated it was a “chance meeting” … of course it wasn’t a chance meeting if Bill held his flight from leaving Phoenix for as long as 40 minutes … but hey, they’re the Clintons.

Raskolnikov used Napoleon as justification for the actions a “great” man/person might take that precludes him/her from the laws that bind mere mortals. Raskolnikov whacked a loanshark and her innocent invalid sister, who happened to be at the crime scene at the exact wrong time.

Now that, the invalid sister's murder, for what it’s worth, was a chance meeting.
 
Bill and Loretta Lynch’s meeting? Not so much.

Immediately after announcing the three-and-a-half hour FBI interview of Mrs. Clinton, the leaks hit the corporate owned newsrooms: No indictment.

Surprise, surprise … or maybe just, “Duh.”
It's an amazing phenomenon how Bill and Hillary survive their assaults on decency. The voter fraud and Clinton Foundation pay-to-play deals with foreign countries continues to boggle the mind ... because there never seems to be a genuine consequence ... or a response outside of allegations eventually swept under the rug. The corruption in this election cycle, especially from the Democrat Party, has been stunning, yet nothing has been done about any of it. Could a Donald Trump win in the democrat primaries? Apparently not ... thus, the DNC proved themselves even more corrupt than the RNC (not that the RNC hasn't flirted with overwriting their own rules to dump their outsider).

In any event, obviously the Clinton think themselves above the rest of us mere mortals. They don't answer to the same rules and regulations, nor do they care what we think about it. And lord knows, their party faithful have been turning a blind eye since Slick Willy perjured himself and was disbarred.

So it goes.

In any event, the two things Bernie Sanders proved beyond any doubt this election cycle were these: 1) there’s absolutely no need for corporate coin to run an election campaign (assuming, of course, the people can trust the politician they’re donating to) … and 2) the Democrat Party is corrupt beyond what anyone could have imagined prior to 2016.

Whether or not Bernie actually follows through on his political revolution is another story. Those who’ve supported him with coin and passion are anxious for him to break away from a party that treated him like a pariah, but we’re not so confident he’ll do it. His promise to support the Democrat nominee, especially in light of what the DNC did to his campaign, is nothing short of rewarding corruption and many of us are appalled at the thought he’d support and vigorously campaign for Hillary Clinton. And if he does, his political revolution turns to dust before his and our eyes, especially if she wins the general election. Sorry, Bernie, but the lesser of two evils doesn't fly when it comes to revolution. If Bernie folds and she wins, what possible need would the DNC ever have of the left after making a mockery of Sanders and his campaign? They’ll be stronger for their corruption, end of story.

And if that’s the case, make no mistake how TK (and Charlie) will feel: Fuck you, Bernie, and please transfer my donations to you over to Jill Stein and the Green Party. At least Jill stands for what she says. If Bernie folds, he turns lots of private campaign donors like myself into the same cynics who say: “Why bother, it’s all rigged anyway?”

And isn't in interesting how George Carlin's "The Big Club" routine remains so prescient today?
 



Run Boy Run … a Jewish boy on the run from Nazi persecution in Poland … you’ll get angry and you’ll cry … and then you should stay angry for the barbaric acts of National Socialism and the blind faith that turned half the world upside down. The movie is based on the true story of Yoram Fridman. Maybe extra appropriate viewing after the very recent death of Elie Wiesel.
 
And remember, amici ... regarding nationalism? Above and below ...


—Knucks


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Book Review: GRAVESEND (William Boyle) … A Convention Game Plan for BERNED Berniecrats …

Amici:
Gravesend, by William Boyle … once again, bouncing around some of the writers’ pages I haunt on Facebook pays off … and this time it pays off big time.

So far this year, at least for me, Gravesend is one of the very best reads I’ve come across. The staccato narrative and the introspective grit of characters trapped in the mores of anachronistic familial and neighborhood mindsets are simply brilliant.

Ray Boy Calabrese is fresh out of the joint for his participation in the killing of a gay kid chased onto the Belt Parkway at the Plum Beach exit in Brooklyn. Ray Boy has just finished a 16-year bid, no easy shakes, but he’s out and just not the same guy he used to be. He’s a man now, but only sure of one thing--he deserves to die. Ray Boy has a nephew, Eugene, a kid enamored with his uncle for all the wrong reasons. He lives the typical punk fantasy all too familiar from watching movies about bad-asses ruling the roost. This genius wants to take on a local mobster’s card game to declare his bona fides as a criminal worthy of his uncle’s respect.

The gay kid Ray Boy chased onto the Belt 16 years ago, Duncan, had a brother who seems to live for revenge. Conway is the classic underachiever. He has a shit job in a pharmacy and lives a shit life with his father. He hangs out with a guy who fuels his desire for revenge. So Conway drinks and dreams of vengeance. He also dreams of women, especially a girl from the neighborhood who left for Hollywood, but who has also returned at the same time Ray Boy was released. Alessandra hasn’t made it in La-La land and her return to the neighborhood is a depressing one. She looks up an old friend and the two couldn’t be more opposite, but she needs someone to use to get out of the house where her mother’s recent death is a dark cloud her father can’t shake. Alessandra winds up ditching the old friend to head into Manhattan where she meets a movie director-producer seeking an actress and coin for his masterpiece. It just might be a scam, but we won’t find out because Alessandra winds up bedding down a bartender.

It’s the author’s writing that kept me glued to the page and anxious to discuss Gravesend with my wife. She was so intrigued with my enthusiasm, she’s reading the book also now. No spoilers in TK, but the ride you get in Gravesend is well worth the price of admission. It’s a brilliant piece of writing by Mr. Boyle.
Although I was born a Manhattan boy, I was raised in Brooklyn—Canarsie, specifically. Plum beach, so essential to Gravesend, was/is the closest beach to Canarsie. Not only did I go there as a kid, so did my kids, and as it turned out, so did my Mom and Pop back in the day. That’s three generations of Stellas hanging out at Plum Beach. The hate-crime Ray Boy and two of his friends committed when they chased Duncan into parkway traffic is incredibly visual to me. I know the turf well.

If you were born or lived in Brooklyn, pretty much any part of Brooklyn, you’ll want to read Gravesend for the sheer familiarity you’ll feel. If you’re looking for some brilliant writing, Boyle provides it, start to finish. If you’re looking for a read that will keep you turning pages, Gravesend is it. One of the best reads of 2016, if not the best. A truly brilliant novel.



By now it’s all over the place, Bernie Sanders’ answer to an MSNBC question: “Will you vote for Hillary Clinton?” “Yes,” he said.

If that’s not an endorsement, I don’t know what is.

The way Bernie proved the election process does not require corporate coin, and the way he exposed the DNC’s corruption, top to bottom, with that single “Yes” … he’s likely undone pretty much all that he achieved.

I’m out a substantial amount of coin and effort for supporting a guy who said he'll vote for the person I wasn't backing--not with a gun to my head. The passion is still there, but it’s no longer holding to a cause gone bad. Think about it. How many of his supporters are going to fall for this shit again and contribute to an “outsider” who “claims” he or she is fighting the establishment from within the establishment? And think of the laugh the establishment he claims he was fighting (and who he just announced he was voting for) must be having today. His was the most significant challenge to the DNC I can remember. Ten plus millions voters. Where do they turn now if they remain dedicated to the cause Bernie just abandoned?
Well, most of us who will hold to our beliefs will likely seek the Green Party. I already have, but if too few do the same, the likelihood is that the DNC’s corrupt choice will win the Presidency ... and then you can kiss your “political revolution” from the left good night for a minimum of 4 years, because if you think HRC is going to yield to the left, you’re taking some serious hallucinogens. Already the DNC has shot down the $15.00 minimum wage Sanders was calling for … as if the DNC was going to listen to anything Sanders has to say after they rigged the process so he couldn’t win.

Sanders claims he promised the Democrat Party he would endorse their nominee. After the sabotaging of his campaign by the DNC, I don’t know how he holds to his promise. Yet some of his supporters cling to a fantasy that he’ll still win the nomination. Hallucinogens, I guess.

And speaking of hallucinogens, the amount of flak I took from die-hard Bernie supporters (a.k.a., blind-faithers and quite possibly brand new lemmings) was comical. “How can you abandon Bernie so easily? Bernie didn’t endorse her! Bernie will win the nomination!”

Sweet Jesus, come off your fucking clouds.

Yesterday I proposed the following, to give Sanders (he’s no longer Bernie to me) one last chance to do the right thing by the millions of people who forked over their coin, time and passion for him. I say protestors to the convention take two shirts with them—a Sanders shirt and a Jill Stein (Green Party) shirt. And if or when Sanders endorses Hillary Clinton, his supporters remove their Sanders shirts and put on their Jill Stein shirts to send a clear signal to the DNC. To wit: He may have jerked us off, but you (the DNC) won’t get the same chance.
GO GREEN, AMICI … if Sanders can’t see what he’s doing to a viable third party, he doesn’t want to see it. Rewarding the DNC after what they did to him and to US is no better than stealing our money and efforts. Nice guy, but in the end, just another Pol.

He can do the right thing come the convention or not. That’s up to him. But all that bullshit about a political revolution? Well, action speaks louder than words, my Brooklyn friend. Action speaks louder than words … and talk is always cheap.

—Knucks

Jill Stein invited Bernie Sanders to join the Green Party … he could bring his supporters there and make them a viable third party overnight … so far he hasn’t responded to their requests.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Guest Blogger: Patti Abbott … TK’s review of Shot in Detroit (Patti’s latest) … and is/has Sanders BERNED OUT?

Amici:
Today we feature author, Patti Abbott (her take on her latest, Shot in Detroit), and our review.

Here’s Patti …
Shot in Detroit is the story of Violet Hart, a photographer, nearing forty, and eager to find artistic success. Through her relationship with a mortician, she comes up with the idea of photographing young black men who have died in Detroit over a six-month period. The novel takes place entirely in Detroit and its near suburbs. Violet Hart is ambitious, a loner, a pest in getting what she wants. She's an artist in other words.

“Photography was a license to go wherever I wanted and to do what I wanted to do.” Diane Arbus

Almost any African-American Detroiter that picks up Shot in Detroit will probably tell you that this is not the real Detroit. That I didn't get Detroit right from my vantage point as a suburbanite. That I didn't get them right. And this was the thought that reverberated in my head through the years I spent writing and rewriting my book. The Detroit in my novel might be one filled with violence, despair and poverty, but it was, and always would be, the view of an outside looking in--someone not, at heart, affected greatly by what was happening inside the city limits in most cases. I might work in Detroit, but I lived elsewhere.

The things I didn't know about Detroit included what the inside of a Detroit public school looked like; how underfinanced and antiquated the fire stations were; what it was like to stand in long lines to cash a check, pay a utility bill, pay a parking fine, see an representative at a Social Security office or at the Secretary of State's office. The hardship of waiting on a cold street corner for a DDOT bus that doesn't come; watching the depopulation of the street you live on, Then watching the houses come down due to arson, neglect, scrapping, mischief. I'd never know the difficulty of grocery shopping in a city with no grocery store chains. No full-scale pharmacies. And being without a car to take you outside city limits. (Most Detroit citizens have no car and this in a city with scant public transportation). City services were shoddy; a mayor was found guilty of many heinous crimes. You only had to look to Chicago or D.C. to see how these issues played out in other cities. But unlike these cities, Detroit had no glamour attached to it.

I conceded these facts. I knew my story would never tell the same story as someone writing from a depopulated street only a mile or two away from me. Other writers faced the same dilemma. Did Elmore Leonard mislead us to some degree with his gift for dialog, his colorful characters? Didn't his entertaining plots serve as the magician's trick of getting us to look at the wrong thing while he performed his magic? His home in Birmingham was as far removed from Detroit as mine.

Of the more than 100 stories I wrote before finishing my first novel, only five were set in Detroit--that's how much I feared getting it wrong. Each of those stories was grim and yet when I look at them now, they share the possibility of redemption, of finding a better life: two children escape their harridan mother, a criminal awakes to find two growths on his back and takes on the duties of an angel; an elderly man enjoys a day with the grandson he never knew he had. None of these stories state their characters are black although you can reasonably assume it.

I have tried to take this on in Shot in Detroit. To confront of fear of being the white outside. In the very first chapter, Violet Hart runs into two cops on Belle Isle. They accuse her of exploiting the people she is photographing. She responds by saying she's an artist. That perhaps her pictures tell their story. Various characters in the book throw this accusation in her face. She does the best she can to respond to it.

And perhaps I did too.

Patti has penned more than 125 stories in all the various venues—on line, in print journals and in various anthologies. She is also the author of two ebooks, MONKEY JUSTICE and HOME INVASION and co-editor of DISCOUNT NOIR. She won a Derringer award for her story "My Hero." She lives outside Detroit. Patti has also authored two terrific novels, Concrete Angel and now Shot in the Detroit.

 
 
Our Review of  Shot in Detroit, by Patti Abbott
Violet Hart is a photographer seeking a project that excites. It can be weird, unusual, dark … but it has to be that special something that can stir the creative juices and that makes life, or at least life as it relates to one’s chosen profession, worth living. While she loves her profession, she’s dependent on the usual photographer fare—weddings, bar and bat mitvahs, birthdays, etc., so she’s living hand to mouth while hoping to put together something for a gallery. The works she currently has showing aren’t selling and she’s catching grief for it.

On one of Violet’s trips to Belle Isle to search for that special something, after one trip that ended with police questioning her presence there, she spots something unusual, and then an unusual person, and a young one at that. Derek Olsen is a kid who creates his own sculptures out of weird stuff and then puts them on display along the beach. The two accidentally meet on Belle Isle. Violet initially thinks of Derek as “crazy guy,” but there’s more to this kid than meets the eye.

Violet has a lover, Bill, who owns a funeral parlor and does a respectable business from his years of service in the neighborhood. When Bill asks Violet to photograph one of the bodies he’s prepped for a funeral, a rugby player from London who was killed by an aneurism, she finds the experience more exhilarating than she imagined it could be. The requested photograph came from the family, a simple picture of their loved one in a casket to be shipped home. Developing the film later on in her darkroom, Violet realizes there’s something more to the picture she’s taken … and creative juices flow.

She strikes a deal with her lover and begins taking pictures of young black males he preps for their funerals. Bill makes it legit by ascertaining permission from family members, but he isn’t fully comfortable with the new arrangement he’s agreed to with Violet.

Very much into her new project, filming dead black males in their caskets, Crazy guy (Derek) calls with something extra weird he thinks Violet might be interested in … and oh, boy, is it weird … body parts he’s created a sculpture from. It’s not something Violet is comfortable with, although she takes a number of photographs of the body parts and the sculpture Derek has created from them.

She’s continuing her project filming the young dead black males at her lover’s funeral parlor, but then the scene on the beach involving Derek, his sculpture, and the body parts, comes back to her via the police. She’s told Derek to let the police know about the body parts he’s found and he’s done as she suggested, except the police are now at her doorstep asking questions. Derek called his work “installation art” … but the police have to wonder if maybe Derek and/or Violet provided their own material for the body part project. She did, after all, take pictures of it.

The complications are increased when the guy who owns a gallery showing her stuff, a guy she’s been intimate with for more pragmatic than romantic reasons (even while a noisy neighbor directly upstairs exercises on his bike), sees her growing gallery of dead black males and wants to run with it. This is something she’s also excited about, but there are legal issues involved that may well threaten her relationship with her true lover, Bill, and it’s a relationship that seems to be on the wane of late.

There are chapters with newspaper articles describing the latest deaths of young black males Violet will get a crack at photographing. It’s a very effective way to keep the pace of the novel moving. Violet is an interesting character not only for her photographic talents, but because she’s flawed in the most artistic way. Let’s face it, there’s an extra dose of selfishness many (most, if not all) artists share, and Violet is no exception. She’s an independent woman unwilling to live by social mores that might preclude her quest for creative expression. It’s a fine line she walks, because the idea of photographing dead males can be viewed as more exploitive than creative … but that’s for the naysayers to deal with. Violet is willing to cross lines some feminists might balk at, and like those living with writers undoubtedly come to realize—nothing is safe around an artist.

Violet is also na├»ve about a particular family secret involving the musician father who abandoned her and her mother years ago, and when she spots Bill with another woman, one with his racial profile, Violet experiences the jealousy a potential rejection inevitably leads to. There are a couple of plot twists and turns in this very interesting novel that strike like sledgehammers, so readers beware. Like most novels worth reading, it’s the journey toward plot twists that keep us interested in what happens next. Violet is a vibrant character. She will keep you interested to the very end, making the plot twists all the more powerful. Shot in the Dark is a wonderful read with an exceptionally interesting female lead, and it is much more than a murder mystery.

 
 
Is/Has Sanders BERNED OUT?

It’s perhaps the most asked question going back and forth in social media these days: Will Bernie Sanders abandon the cause and get behind Crooked Hillary Clinton (sorry, but no sincere Sanders supporter and/or progressive can call her anything but Crooked Hillary).

I’ve had my doubts going back to the Arizona debacle, where hundreds of polling locations were reduced from over 200 in 2012 to 60 in 2016. I was pretty sure early on that the Democratic Party would never allow Bernie Sanders to represent them; a party owned by corporate coin wasn’t about to allow someone who refused it take the top spot. Yet, hopeless romantic I am, I was hopeful the huge crowds Bernie was drawing, as opposed to the tiny ones surrounding Crooked Hillary, meant something.

And I did my best to remind myself how in 1960. scores of dead people voted JFK into office in Illinois; if they could do that then and hack into the Pentagon now, what were the odds it wouldn’t happen to voting machines in an election being run by millionaires and billionaires?

Post Arizona, there was no longer a doubt as to what would happen. The question remained, however, would Bernie make the move his supporters so desperately want him to make—would he defy the corruption of the Democratic National Committee and its star corrupt candidate, Crooked Hillary Clinton? Would Bernie start a viable third party with millions of supporters behind him, or even join one already in existence, the Green Party, and help to make it the Progressive Party his supporters want so badly? Or, in the end, would he wind up rewarding the corruption and endorsing Crooked Hillary?

I fear it’ll wind up being the latter, but that doesn’t mean we have to follow suit—not his supporters. Most of us are well aware of the consequences for progressives should Crooked Hillary win the Presidency. First off, we’ll be ignored over the next four years—as if we never existed. Why wouldn’t they ignore us? After what they did to Sanders’ campaign, should he still endorse her, why the hell would the Democratic Party bother giving us lip service, never mind a genuine acknowledgment?

Secondly, nothing changes within the party itself and/or their policies. Absolutely nothing.

Thirdly, everything we feared about Crooked Hillary and her flip-flops will come to pass, to include TPP legislation authored by the same corporate owners who own Crooked Hillary and Barry Obama. She’ll forget $15.00 an hour, her pledge to reduce education costs, single payer health insurance, and we’ll be led right back into the Middle East quagmire via her regime change fetish and love of perpetual war.

So, if Bernie bolts, most of us are with him. If he caves, he does it alone.

We can still love the man for what he tried, but we cannot dismiss the end result. For Bernie to get behind Crooked Hillary is to REWARD the corruption of the party against himself and his supporters … something I’ll never digest.

So, go the convention, Bernie. Show up and let them have it in a much more direct way than they fought you throughout this campaign (as exposed in the latest hack of the DNC server). Take the microphone at center stage and announce that after more than a year of fighting the corruption of the DNC, you’re taking your talents to the GREEN PARTY and establishing a formal Progressive Party to not only challenge for the Presidency, but to establish as a viable political party at every level of government, from local organizations to Governorships.

YES, GO GREEN, BERNIE … it’s where we need you most now.

—Knucks

Jill Stein on the differences between Trump and Crooked Hillary … and the myth of the lesser of two evils.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Interview with Ross Gresham (White Shark) … Book Review: Kill Anything That Moves … The Trump Implosion …

Amici:
I first met Ross Gresham, his brother Kyle, and sister Nicole, some 42 years ago. Their parents were professors at the college I attended on a football scholarship (Minot State College, now a University). Their father is the guy I mention in every book dedication. He’s definitely the person most responsible for me ever getting published, and probably the person most responsible for me not being in jail and/or dead.

Now, some 42 years later, I get to interview Ross (or, as I call him, Rossman). Like his parents and both siblings, Ross has some serious education chops. He’s also a terrific author with a new book out (reviewed here), White Shark (click on the link for our review).
Ross is the author of the mystery novel White Shark (Gale / Five Star, May 2016). It's the first book in his Jim Hawkins series. His short stories have appeared in Indiana Review, Theaker's, and Front Range Review. Gresham's first book, Andre Dubus Talking (Xavier Review Press, 2003), collected together for the first time all available interviews with Dubus. Gresham is Professor of English at the United States Air Force Academy and fiction editor for the journal War, Literature & the Arts. He lives in Colorado Springs with his family.

1. Where did the idea for Jim Hawkins come from?

Response: Years back a guy told me the basic story of Lawrence Rockwood. Rockwood was a US soldier stationed in Haiti who was appalled by the inhuman prison conditions. He kept complaining through official channels but that worked about as well as you’d expect. Finally he put on his kit and marched in…. Recently the NYT ran a nice piece about one of our soldiers who was sickened by the fact that our Afghan ally kept a little boy chained to his bed as a sex slave. The US soldier kicked the guy’s ass for him (and of course was fired for doing so). I’ve heard a dozen similar stories. Just because it’s the rule doesn’t make it the right thing to do. Perfect kind of character for a crime book.

2. Tell us about old money vs. new. Why did you choose that as one of a few backdrops to what Hawkins unwittingly comes up against?

Response: That’s a great question. I have no idea. In real life I haven’t met that many people with old money, but I’ve liked every single one of them. I wish I had some old money myself.

3. This was one of my favorite passages in the novel, especially the last line, which I believe is a humbling fact for most (if not all) of us. “Now, you may think, Rich Lady! She orders you around like a servant! That wasn’t the situation. Yes, Sarah had her ideas about how things should be. This is the trap of money and Sarah wasn’t immune. No one is. A lady with extensive property makes a decision every ten minutes—which car? Which restaurant? Which house?—and the habit becomes a trait. Authority rewires the brain. You forget what people are for. That happens to everyone.” Has this been your experience? Do people with major coin have rewired brains because of it?

Response: Yeah, authority rewires the brain. Regrettably. A line in a favorite book haunts my life: “Have you ever known a schoolmaster fit to associate with grown men?” I’m a college teacher, prating at college students ten months a year. I go home every night and prate to my poor kids. I’m fated to become an unbearable jackass (what’s that the wife is saying? I’m already…?) Every May, at the end of the school year, I fantasize about moving to a monastery with a vow of silence. I am so fucking tired of my own voice: blah blah blah. What a dick.
 

4. Picking up on some of the passages I loved, here’s another statement from on high (money): She spun me a theory about great men. It was different for great men. All we could hope for was to be of some assistance. I immediately thought of Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov. Is that what you were aiming at?

Response: Again, great question. I didn’t have Raskolnikov in mind—I don’t know the Russians as well as I should—but I’ll take the Dostoevsky comparison all day long.

5. As much as I hate to admit it, especially since he took a major misrepresentative cheap shot at Bernie Sanders in the Miami paper he writes for, I was immediately comparing White Shark to the Carl Hiaasen environmental novels. Humorous, cynical, clever and cool … very cool. I think I preferred White Shark because of the depth of your cool vs. Hiaasen’s cool. I especially enjoyed how your protagonist was so much more innocent than I remember Hiaasen’s star. Hawkins crept up on me, his military background/prowess, etc., and I thought that was very effective. Even in affairs of the heart, Hawkins was a very reasonable dude. Hiaasen supports a fracking queen, which negates his environmental angst for me. Hawkins doesn’t seem all that concerned with the environment per se, and is more concerned with how people treat one another. Was that a conscious decision you made for him? I like it, because there’s more reality to it (than we’d all like to admit about ourselves). We don’t root for environmental disasters, but we don’t do much to avoid them. Hawkins is focused on people. Is that because of his background experiences in Africa, or is it because there’s only so much room and time for a particular cause/crusade?

Response: Jeez I like your reading of Hawkins. He wouldn’t pay attention to any “-ism,” even a virtuous one like environmentalism. None of them register.

6. White Shark is a page turner, and a fun one at that. It’s also extremely smart writing. The dirty retired government official was all too credible, especially with the shit we see day-to-day from our illustrious government and the clowns holding office. Land development vs. environmental concerns loom in the background of White Shark. Was this all a master plan or did it come about as you progressed in the story. I guess this is a process question. Was it outlined with those ideas in your head or did it come as you wrote?

Response: The choice of bad guys probably reveals my own biases (except they’re not biases but sound political wisdom). I didn’t plan the book very well and had to revise a lot. I went to years of writing school but we wrote short stories and didn’t talk about plotting. Or maybe I wasn’t paying attention. Anyway, no master plan, though I did know the essential crime from the start.

7. Where does Hawkins go after his stint on Nausset Island? Is there another Hawkins novel in the works? I hope so.

Response: One more in the oven. How on earth did Jim Hawkins end up as a substitute Sheriff in rural Wyoming? At least nothing can go wrong in a boring place like that….

8. You grew up in a very literary family, not to mention the ultimate Renaissance man environment. When did you start writing? What age, subject matter, etc.?

Response: I do come from a reading family. Growing up, everyone had a book going—your book—as in, “it’s going to be a long drive, grab your book.” Another nice thing about my family background was that being a writer was about the best thing you could be. Really. Most families would love their kids to be an astronaut or play quarterback for the Cowboys. Or get rich—maybe that’s the most common thing we want for our kids, so that we never have to worry. But my house was wall-to-wall books. I loved everything about them—the musty smell, the covers—these worlds were out of reach.

9. You have an MA and from Southern Mississippi and a PhD from the University of Denver. What are your thoughts on graduate writing schools?

Response: I know that people complain about writing schools, but those years certainly helped me. Going in, my work was terrible. Coming out, my work was somewhat less terrible. I also had a good time. I liked all the people and teachers. I’ll try a New York accent: C’mon, what d’ya want? (forgive me.)

10. Should they entertain genre fiction or continue to exist with a pickle up their asses?

Response: Ha! You know what’s a common phenomenon? You get on an airplane coming home from a big professor conference—MLA or something—and all these scholars are reading Stephen King or Fifty Shades of Grey. Anybody who reads books reads some kind of genre fiction. It’s true that some professors stop reading altogether. On the airplane they’re re-watching The Matrix on DVD.

11. Two Harvard graduates (you and your sister, Nicole), and an Air Force Academy graduate (your brother, Kyle). That’s some seriously impressive parenting. I think I remember your Dad saying he used to pay you guys to read based on the size of the book. X amount for so many pages, etc. Which book was your biggest payday? Did you enjoy it or was it something to bring to the labor board?

Response: I know I didn’t get any money for Elmore Leonard. I got twenty bucks apiece for the Will Durant history series. The whole policy made a lot of sense. My friends were flipping burgers for three bucks an hour. If you were a parent, and you could afford to, who wouldn’t make that deal?

12. Your kids … are you following the free market coin for books approach with them or have you altered the program? If so, how have you altered it?

Response: My kids? They don’t know what books are. They just steal the money out of my wallet when I’m asleep.

13. Your favorite novel and why?

Response: How about Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim? I’ve read it thirty or forty times and each time I’ve laughed aloud.

14. How in the world did you and your brother, two kids growing up in North Dakota (where the closest NFL team was the Minnesota Vikings) wind up Dallas Cowgirl fans? Was it strictly jumping on a winning team bandwagon or was it a romanticized version of rooting for a team full of felons (i.e., the underdogs make good)? And please tell me that you and Kyle haven’t brainwashed Nicole into being a Dallas fan as well.


Response: To some people, I know, it is odd to be a fan of the Dallas Cowboys. I understand that. But remember my childhood was different. I was born here in America.


Kill Anything That Moves, by Nick Turse … An important book, especially to those partway through high school, but also to pretty much everyone else, because it rips away the bloated super-hyped glory of going to war, being in war, and surviving war. It remains a very tough book for me to read. That’s right, I haven’t finished it yet.

So, how do you review it, Knucks?

Calm your jets and I’ll tell you … a little at a time, because the non-stop documentation of the hundreds, maybe thousands of My Lai Massacres that took place over the course of the “conflict in Vietnam” are very tough (at least for me) to comprehend. I don’t intend or want to browbeat the soldiers involved in these massacres, because although there were war crimes pretty much constantly committed, the war crimes themselves were U.S. Military policy. The soldiers, often caught in terrified situations, especially after one of their own was wounded or killed, reacted the way none of us might imagine, yet can understand (if we take the time to visualize the mess). So, yeah, the Lt. William Calley fucked up, but so did all those behind the scenes, from higher-ups in country to the assholes running things in Washington D.C.

I’ll eventually finish reading the book, but I really had to take a break because the documentation of devastation and murder and rape and pillage was just too much to handle straight through. Like I said, it’s an important book … and especially for those young men who think it’s all for glory and honor they’re shipped overseas to kill people who never did a thing against them.

The Trump Implosion … I suspect nobody is more disappointed than me in the Orange Blowhard’s (a.k.a. The Donald’s) self-implosion. Not because I supported this lunatic, but because I believed, and still do, that he’s just a big blowhard with nothing to offer or accomplish if ever elected President. I also thought it would be great for America to be exposed -- how absurd our political system/culture has become—the fact a complete buffoon can win a major party nomination is bad enough, but top it off with the Presidency? Man, that’s just entertainment. Frankly, as a country that can’t manage to achieve (or maybe doesn’t want to) more than 50% of the public to even show up to vote, we deserve the fiasco we’ve sowed.

Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump … a congenital liar, war hawk, bribe-taking, criminal versus an absolute clown. There’s “American Exceptionalism” for you.

As a Bernie supporter, I’ve already turned to the Green Party … I can only hope Sanders doesn’t cave and wind up endorsing the very kind of corruption his campaign fought against. Should he do so, he loses my support and winds up being just another pol in my book. I could care less about best intentions. You don’t endorse what you claim you were fighting (pay attention Mika Brzezinski—your constant complaining about GOP officials supporting the Orange Blowhard are getting old—try asking Elizabeth Warren why she dodged a simple “yes”/”no” question regarding whether or not Hillary Clinton should release her Wall Street transcripts?).

Speaking of Warren, Bernie should pay attention to how unfavorably she’s been received by progressives since her sellout. She’s hated now, and deservedly so.

If Bernie really wants to generate a political revolution, he’d hustle his ass over to the Jill Stein and the Green Party, which has been begging for his presence for years now.

—Knucks

One from Column A and one from Column B …