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Monday, October 10, 2016

Reviews: Rosario Tijeras by Jorge Franco and Killing Pablo by Marc Bowden … The Donald and the “P” Word … Misogyny, it's such a Presidential word ...


Rosario Tijeras by Jorge Franco.  The recommendation came from Gonzalo Baeza, my personal Facebook hero. I’d mentioned to him that I was doing a lot of research on Colombia before and during the Escobar years. The political situation of a country that would yield to a drug kingpin fascinated me. The conditions on the street and lives of those most affected by the war that raged between Escobar and the government were equally fascinating.
Lost in all the violence, however, was the individual lives of those who share the same life’s issues we all share. Antonio, the narrator of Franco’s wonderful novel, is the guy in love with the girl he can’t have. Struck by the lightning bolt early on, Antonio has to suffer a double dose of humiliation when his best friend from childhood, Emilio, winds up as Rosario’s lover. Although the novel tells the story of a woman fighting her way through life, it is the narrator who breaks our heart at every turn. He considers himself a coward for never telling her how much he loves her and wants to protect her. When the time comes and he finally has Rosario sexually, it is quickly shot down by her ability to suspend emotions and replace them with a steel-like resolve.
Rosario is a beautiful woman born into poverty, raped by one of her mother’s boyfriends at a young age, and then kicked out of her mother’s house for castrating the man with a pair of scissors. Although we’re unsure of her real surname, she’s known from that point on as Rosario Tijeras (Tijeras is Spanish for scissors). Rosario has a brother, Johnefe, she moved in with after her mother kicked her out. Johnefe is a sicario (killer/hitman) for one of the cartels (there are hints throughout the book it’s for one of Escobar’s crews). The two are close and dedicated to religion and one another, except in Johnefe’s world, the world of a drug cartel, women are playthings to those with the power. There are times when Rosario disappears from both Antonio and Emilio’s lives for days or weeks or months at a time because she’s with “them.”
Rosario is more than a plaything, something she at times resents and other times appreciates for all being a cartel plaything provides. She’s also a killer, a hit woman, so to speak, but whether she’s operating as a private contractor, killing men who fail to respect her, or if she’s performing work for the cartel, she never reveals.
Both Antonio and Emilio are kids from the other side of the tracks. They come from fairly wealthy families who scorn Rosario’s world, but the two are in love with her just the same, no matter the social divide.
The novel starts with a very dark and violent opening. Antonio reflects on his and Emilio’s times with Rosario, telling their stories in vignettes from the past. Franco takes us back and forth in time, and when the action returns to Antonio, shortly after the start of the book, it is compelling. Simply put, this novel has left me in awe.
There is a movie by the same name on Netflix, but I wouldn’t watch it until after reading the book. The movie stays very close to the book until the ending. Worth the watch, but I HIGHLY RECOMMEND reading the book first.
One of my favorite passages (Antonio describing the pain of being in love with Rosario): He who is silent assents, and I had to be silent. It pained me to recognize it, but it was true. I didn’t have the courage to ask them how you cured yourself of that habit, what the treatment was, where, who could help me, and I thought that if a place didn’t exist that offered some kind of therapy, humanity had been negligent of humanity not establishing one because one thing I was sure of was that I wasn’t the only one. There are millions of us shiteaters who have to cure ourselves in silence or, has happened so many times, we die of a fecal overdose.
“So much shit must be good for something,” I consoled myself, nevertheless. “It’s used as fertilizer for a reason.”

Killing Pablo by Marc Bowden.  Frankly, I didn’t like it. I’d done some research before and since reading the book by the best-selling author of Blackhawk Down, but I found it sketchy at times, and way too patriotic (i.e., fawning American patriotism) to take it as seriously as I would have liked. It’s a thin book that ignores a much bigger and better story. While Bowden does present some of the anti-American sides to the story, it seems as though he couldn’t help himself by bragging about American capabilities. Delta Force snipers were either “the best in the world” or “among the best in the world” depending on which page you read the passage. That may well be true, but the hints that it was a Delta Force sniper who fired the kill shot seems a stretch. To be fair, Bowden believes it was an up-close shot fired by Colombian police, what seems to make the most sense, but shades of American influence, as valid as it might have been, seemed forced. Overall, I agree with The Guardian’s review of the book. A lot crammed into clichés, and thus missed. (click on the link here:).
The upside is Killing Pablo forced me to look deeper into the period when Pablo Escobar was born, during Colombia’s La Violencia, a ten-year civil war in Colombia from 1948 to 1958, between the Colombian Conservative Party and the Colombian Liberal Party. The amazing things about Escobar continue to fascinate me. He was elected to congress as an alternate, mostly due to the housing he built for the poor in Medellin, the soccer field and teams he built and supported, and the cash he handed out to those living in tin shacks. Once he was shamed out of office due to the public disclosure of a prior arrest for drug smuggling, Escobar had the minister of justice, Rodrigo Lara, killed.
Escobar killed a lot of people, including 3 presidential candidates, judges, journalists, lesser politicians, police officials, and police. The numbers are staggering. He used bombs against enemies real and imagined, but it was the downing of an Avianca commercial jet with a bomb, in an attempt to get the man who would become president, that turned at least some of the public against him. Escobar also managed to back down the Colombian government as regards extradition (they literally rewrote their constitution to negate extradition—what the cartels feared the most, American prison cells), and eventually persuaded them, via that unimaginable violence, to allow him to set up his own prison with his own guards and his own rules. Until he started to kill other dealers within the prison walls, those he felt were cheating him, Escobar was pretty much home free. His escape from La Catedral was the beginning of his end, however, although his street philosophy of plata o plomo, money or lead (i.e. bribes or bullets), proved extremely effective through most of his reign of terror. Before his end, like most megalomaniacs, Escobar overreached and brought the fury of not only the government, backed by the CIA, DEA, FBI and Delta Force, but also Colombian paramilitary outfits and other drug cartels both within Medellin and out (i.e. Cali).
Anyway, there are enough details and research to get a good overall picture, but if you want an in-depth, less romanticized American slant, keep looking. I am.
The Donald and the “P” Word … so it finally happened, although it was probably in place for months already. Wait for the latest Wiki dump and then nail the public with the Orange Blowhard being the Orange Blowhard. It worked, too. This election is over. Crooked Hillary Clinton is already picking out her inaugural Kim Jong-Un outfit. She’s rattled her saber back at Russia and China, put her TPP people in place, and will soon be taking the oligarchic oath of office.
Of course hers will remain an illegitimate presidency. Democrat Lemmings may look the other way, but independents aren’t as forgiving about the rigged primary.
Still, it’s The Donald all by himself who gave away this election to a career war criminal, so we’ll just have to wait out her first four years with the hope she doesn’t make good on her threats to nuke Iran and/or any other nation state, whether they nuke Israel first or not.
One has to wonder how the Trumpster will turn this fiasco of a campaign into BIG LEAGUE coin once the fiasco is over. Some claim it’ll be a new television network. Trump TV? What else?
Rightwing whack-job Marc Levin has his own little television show. Maybe the two can call one another and fight via phone.
“You’re an idiot!  There I said it.”
“You’re a LOSER, and your wife is a dog!”
Hey, why not? It’s not like America doesn’t have an appetite for the absurdity of reality television. If Kim Kardashian can burst onto the scene via a sex tape and stay there via inanity, imagine what Levin and Trump could do?
As to the media’s outrage at the Bloward’s comments, especially the male pundits, one has to laugh. Those clowns have probably used the same language, perhaps not bragging like idiots, but the same language, on dozens if not hundreds or thousands of occasions. Unfortunately, the American male, like most males throughout the world, have yet to preen themselves of what always passes, like it or not, whether it’s boasting or dumb shit, as comfortable conversation among themselves.
Whether the GOP can save some of itself and convince the Bloward to step aside will be interesting to watch. So far it isn’t working. Trump is back on Twitter being the fighter he wasn’t during the Vietnam War. Somebody say keyboard warrior? Chances are, he’s too arrogant to quit, and he’ll always have an excuse for losing, so he’ll probably stay for the drubbing he’ll get, whether it’s genuine or as rigged as the DNC primary.  Outside of myself, and for purely comical reasons (and/or just rewards), nobody really wants Trump to be president. I think this country deserves him. I think it would be hilarious. I think this country is already in much deeper trouble than it likes to admit and that Trump would be much less dangerous than people think, because nobody would take him seriously. Hillary, on the other hand, is a warmonger and corporate shill, and that combination is deadly in this country at this time.
But, let’s face it, it’ll be her, as the illegitimate president. If you accept that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, wait’ll you see the shit that’s coming down the road.
Misogyny, it’s such a Presidential Word … (this first appeared on my Facebook page) … So, the fusillade of holier than thou comments about what men say about women was what I suspected it would be when I posted about this a couple of days ago. Suddenly, whether categorized as “normal” or “good,” men never talk the way the Orange Blowhard popped off on God knows how many occasions. Really?
Let’s clear this up front in the hope I don’t have to respond to emotional rants. This is NOT a defense of anything Trump said/says or does, but to assume that men do not talk about women in what can clearly be labelled misogynistic terms is absurd. Frankly, it’s total fucking nonsense.
Let me be clearer: Not only is that NOT a defense of what Trump said/says or does, it is also NOT condoning misogynistic comments, but who’s kidding who about what MOST men often say, whether it’s about women in general or a specific woman?
I was in a discussion about this last night and I found it funny how “saying that a woman has a great ass” was acceptable to one woman in the discourse, but how that wasn’t the same thing as “having a man grab a woman’s vagina whether she wanted it or not.” WTF? Yeah, no shit, it’s not the same. But since when does saying “that woman has a great ass” not count as misogynistic? Some women might not mind hearing they or someone else has “a great ass,” but I do not think a comment like that gets to be semi-misogynistic (i.e. okay, acceptable).
What Trump said, and probably says way more often than not, is perhaps beyond what might qualify as, dare I say it, “normal” misogyny, but it’s not different than his many other massive exaggerations about everything from crowd sizes to his income and/or his penis size. To suggest normal or good men NEVER use what qualifies as misogynistic language is about as nonsensical as his net worth being $10 billion dollars and/or Hillary Clinton’s claim to Scott Pelley that she “always tries to tell the truth.”
Look, like it or not, we remain a culture imbued with misogynistic lingo. I’d say it’s much more prevalent in younger men than older, but make no mistake, it reaches pretty high up there in age brackets. And here’s a fucking newsflash, it reaches the professional ranks too, and is at least at par with blue collar men and athletes guilty of same. The other night on Bill Maher’s show, the entertainer Pitbull couldn’t control his use of the word “pussy” and I’m pretty sure I saw Maher cringe a time or two, which appeared uncomfortable as he was trying to kiss Pitbull’s ass.
Face it, we remain a culture that reflects misogyny in all forms, from music to screen to literature, etc. That doesn’t make it right, but it certainly doesn’t make it invisible the way some holier than thou(s) are trying to paint the picture.
I tried to think of the men I’ve known in my life who NEVER said something misogynistic and it’s a pretty thin list. Of those I’ve spent some reasonable amount of time with, I can honestly say it has to be somewhere in the 1% range. I know of a few religious men I’ve never heard speak badly about women. A few, but certainly not all, of those involved in academia I’ve been around, and maybe one or two I’m not remembering, but that’s it. The VAST majority of men I’ve known or have spent a reasonable amount of time with have uttered something I suspect most women, and/or society at large, could or would find fault with, and/or qualify as misogynistic. And yes, that includes me. And for those who claim any woman who puts up with that kind of talk, whether it’s in a joking or insulting manner, are equally as guilty as the men who say such vile things, I’d say that’s a pretty small planet the accusers seek to live on.
To repeat: This is not a defense of the Orange Blowhard … nor is it a defense of misogynistic language or actions. It is simply a refutation of the male camp who now claim they don’t know any men who talk like Trump did, whether it was in a lesser or greater offensive manner.
But, bringing it back to politics, as is my wont, I do have to wonder where was the angst from these males, mostly democrats, when Bill Clinton was being accused of rape or having to admit to having sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinski?
And let’s not get into what he was doing with his cigars in the Oval Office. Seems to me the angst was directed at the GOP for harassing poor Bill, with the women being damned.
Oh, and one more thing ... VOTE FOR JILL STEIN.

And Jill says …