Charlie's Books

Charlie's Books
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"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).

Friday, April 19, 2013

Beware the uptick in nationalism and/or Stand Your Ground ... In Giovanni’s Room ... is this man a jinx or what? …

The last time we heard the frenzied chants of “USA! USA!”, a well oiled propaganda machine stirred our collective national pride into two wars of choice (one of which we’re still fighting). Too many of us believed, myself included, that Afghanistan was a training ground for terrorists, as if they couldn’t train anywhere else in the world, and that those schools needed to be eradicated. Too many of us believed, myself included, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction they were about to unleash on us unless we took them out first. Too many of us believed, myself included, we were in imminent danger of being victimized by terrorism.
So, we stood our ground, if you will, and didn’t retreat. No, instead we went halfway around the world to pursue those who we were told would harm us ... and over the course of 12-13 years, the well oiled propaganda machine did its best to tell us we were winning, even when it was obvious nobody was winning ... then they told us the atrocities over there were merely collateral damage (because in war, innocent people die, too, etc.) … but the end result has been one tragedy heaped upon another, our kids dying and being maimed, their kids dying and being maimed, and nobody really believes anybody will be better off when we finally exit Afghanistan.
And if you believe we did something wonderful for Iraq, here’s something to take into account, especially in light of what happened in Boston this past Monday: In Iraq, the country we invaded by choice, as of January 19, 2013, there were an average of 6.4 civilian deaths per day caused by suicide attacks and car bombs in 2013.
What happened in Boston this past Monday was tragic. No matter the political cause and/or statement, the killing of innocent people can never be justified, not as collateral damage nor as primary targets, but that cannot apply to Americans only. The fact of the matter is we’re responsible for the same thing occurring on a daily basis in at least two countries we chose to war with, where innocents are killed by bombs daily, because our interference with their lives has left their countries in a state of chaos. And, no, we shouldn’t go back and try to straighten things out for them. We’ve done more than enough damage to all concerned.
We should remember what conservatives so often like to quote (from their hero, Ronald Reagan): “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'” Does anyone really think the Iraqi’s are grateful for our help? Maybe the ones we greased with billions of now unaccounted for cash, but ask the average Iraqi what they think ... and do it soon, before they’re victims of another suicide bombing.
And this leads to what happened in the Boston Garden the night of the Bruins-Sabres game the other night. When everyone in the crowd belted out the national anthem, it was a spontaneous outpouring of emotion and support for the victims of the marathon bombings, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It was heartfelt and magical, but there was also a surge of national pride that gave me pause when the anthem was finished, and the “USA, USA” chants began. I thought, uh-oh, here we go again.
Let’s hope not.
The update to this post is that the second suspect has been captured. Excuse the lack of fire, I’ve been burned one too many times by political overzealousness to go to war. I’m glad the kid wasn’t killed.
Speaking of Stand Your Ground … excuse me for repeating myself, but ... need further proof it’s a disastrous law? Look back to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars of choice … our lives were in imminent dangerwe had to get them before they got us … what we got was a 2nd and then 3rd Vietnam, way too many Americans killed, way too many maimed veterans, way too many innocent Iraqi and Afghani dead, two major contributors to our national debt, and a boom for defense contractors and flag manufacturers.
Stand your ground domestically has given gang members an out when they fight in the streets and has made chunky insurance underwriters/wannabe cops a lot braver than they’d be without a gun in their possession. We already have a self-defense law on the books. There’s no need to encourage morons who watch a few too many action movies to make themselves overnight celebrities. This isn’t about gun control. Outside of the common sense stuff (what some of our illustrious Senators ignored), I say the government should back off.
My beef with Stand Your Ground is about the right to kill on impulse …. shooting someone because somebody “thinks” their life is in danger. That’s just too vague a concept and can be stretched, as we’ve now experienced, halfway across the globe … and for what?
Your life is in imminent danger? You sure, or you just think so? George Zimmerman felt the need to pursue a kid walking home from the store, even after the police told him to back off. Something happened after Zimmerman ignored the police directive that led to his shooting the kid. Zimmerman says his life was in imminent danger, even though he’s the one who was carrying a gun. The kid with the candy and soft drink doesn’t get to speak for himself, because he’s dead.
So maybe we should’ve nuked Iraq and Afghanistan and said they were about to shoot first.
You see what I’m saying? It’s bullshit. Whether Zimmerman’s life was in imminent danger or not, whether Iraq had WMD or not, whether the Taliban used Afghanistan to train the way we use Camp Lejeune to train marines ... you don’t shoot people (or go to war with them) on an impulse ... and we did.

In Giovanni’s Room … James Baldwin’s second novel was published in 1956, a time when homosexuality was not only buried from public view for fear of persecution, it was often buried in the souls of those yearning to come out. The protagonist (David) in Baldwin’s second novel is a man fighting his sexuality amidst the slings and arrows of a rigid society, and a father who wants to do right by his son, but wants for his son to be a man. David had a homosexual experience while growing up in Brooklyn. Immediately after spending a night with another boy, he became a bully to the same boy—mostly because of the self loathing shame he felt from what society had deemed verboten. Later on, continually having to fight off and inner urge to be with the opposite sex, David becomes engaged to a woman as a defense mechanism, and eventually flees to Paris to avoid school and to find himself. It is in the city of lights where he finds Giovanni, a gay bartender, and perhaps himself. Self denial turns tragic when he ultimately leaves Giovanni to re-prove himself a man. The drama that ensues is riveting. A wonderful novel that perhaps should be required reading in our high schools to help those young enough who hold a fear of homosexuality ... maybe they'll get over themselves; maybe they'll see the damage their unwillingness to accept what is normal sexual behavior for some … and if for no other reason than to help to avoid the individual self-loathing that can result from a society that scorns what they refuse to understand; if for no other reason than to keep a kid from feeling his or her only out is to leap from a bridge.

Is this man a jinx or what? I was born a Mets fan … but when it came to football, at least when I first started watching it, I was a Packers fan because they were coached by a guy with a last name that ended in a vowel—Vince Lombardi. So, as I learned the rules and became a fan of the game, then started to play the game, Lombardi had already passed away and my loyalty to a team that played in Wisconsin seemed silly. Somewhere in my twenties, I decided to root, root, root, for the home team and since the Jets played at Shea Stadium along with the Mets, it was a natural transition to root for team Green. Because the Giants played at the old Skankie Stadium, there was no way I could root for them. Upon returning home post-college and getting married, I did what any self-respecting moron would do, I bought season tickets to the Jets during the Richard Todd era … but was it Richard Todd or me who jinxed the Jets?

When they moved to New Jersey, I wrote the Jet organization about what they could do with my season tickets … they didn’t write back. There was one team left in New York, the Buffalo Bills … and they sucked. The Bills were 2-14 in 1984, but they got to pick first in the next NFL draft. So, in 1985, we chose wisely … Bruce Smith … and the road to the good years began. I won’t go through my history with good old Mr. Wilson and my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills … 4 super bowl appearances (and losses) in a row isn’t anything to be proud of (sorry, it’s not). But they were arguably the best team in the league (perhaps of the decade if they had a Bill Parcells of their own), but Super Bowl frustration is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Putting it plainly: it is better you don’t get there.

Of course many years have since passed and the Bills are a year-to-year disaster, starting with the genius behind the moves these days, Buddy Nix … but hope springs eternal and it wouldn’t take much to climb the mountain with all the parity around the league.

And because the Principessa Ann Marie wants to see Niagara Falls at least once this lifetime, we’re heading upstate for the second game of the upcoming season ... my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills open with the Cheatriots on September 8, then follow with another home game against the Panthers on September 15. Why the Panthers and not the Choketriots, yous ask? Simple: I want to see my Bills lose by less than 30 ...

Enter my new love, the New York Rangers. 6 goals last night ... 7 so far tonight (after 2 periods--they finished with 8) ... more than what is usually our bi-monthly allotment, but hope springs eternal ... unless the Jinx is on ... for it seems the teams I fall in love with are immediately granted the kiss of death ... hopefully not during the playoffs ... if we don’t choke and miss them. Can we beat the Penguins, especially without their superstar, Sidney Crosby? I doubt it … but that’s why they play the games, Amci. See the L.A. Kings, last year’s Stanley Cup Champions … they were also 8th in their division (16th overall) and they went through the playoffs like a hot knife through butter ... all the way to the Stanley cup.

By the way … who the FOCK was Stanley?


Let’s get spiritual, amici ... with some Blind Faith ... In the Presence of the Lord ...