Sunday, March 30, 2008

Looking for the truth, in a coffee shop, in the mountains.. the scraps of paper on the floor ...

"I gotta tell you the truth, folks, I gotta tell you the truth.

"When it comes to bullshit ... big-time, major-league bullshit ... you
have to stand in awe of religion.

"Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there is
an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every
minute of every day.

"And the invisible man has a list of ten things he does not want you to

"And if you do any of these things he has a special place, full of fire
and burning and smoke and anguish, and where he will send you to burn
and suffer and choke and scream and cry forever and ever, 'til the end
of time.

"... But he loves you."

— George Carlin, Zeitgeist
TWIN PARADOX COFFEE SHOP, Portland, Oregon — "Hey, dude fellow, gimme one a them-there Grandee Motcha Breeve's."

Turn right at E. Burnside St., turn left onto 10th Ave., end at NE 10th Ave.

My car floor is littered with notes from Mapquest and hosts about how to get from Point A to Point B. Sometimes I get there, sometimes I have to scramble from Point P to T to C, then B, but so far so good.

Tomorrow I'm going into the mountains with Joe Beelart, a longtime email Bigfooting friend. We are going looking for Bigfoot, looking for the truth about America. We are going to turn the stone and look beneath it — and also find out who killed John and Bobby and Martin and Malcolm.

It's Sunday. I have correctly followed the directions given me to a funkedelic Portland coffee shop, dogs roam in and out. I ask the guy behind the counter for a Grande Mocha Breve.

You cannot buy black coffee in Oregon. It is against the law.

In Oregon they also pump your gas for you. It's either because they think everyone else is too stupid, or something. I ask the guy to explain the Grande Mocha Breve to me, and after he's done I smile and nod and say okay. I have no idea what he said.

I ask for "one of those bagels" and point.

He asks if I want it toasted and whether I want Brazilian almond spread or Guatamalan Bagel Spread Mocha Shit on it, and I say no, just plain, thanks.


Yesterday I read at Laughing Horse Books. I met with five members of the local 911 Truth group.

It is the uber-intelligentsia of Portland, is my impression. And here I am reading out of a big children's book with color pictures.

Well, we had a good time, really. I enjoyed listening to them.

Tim Calvert is one of the original founding members of Laughing Horse. He has been with the store since 1985. That is hard-core. Dedication. Serious.

After my thing we go to Nicolas' Restaurant for Lebanese food. It is the best Lebanese food I have ever had. There is humus and pita bread and other stuff.

And Turkish coffee. Farm out. Also the best Turkish Coffee I have ever tasted.

Then we went over to Powell's Books, on 10th Avenue. I guess people do still read. There are hundreds of people looking around.

Geezuz God, that is kinda surprising.

I think of my two books in the trunk of my car and think that these people would like them, but they will never see them.

It is magic — to be able to get a book into a store like this.


I am gone, outside, into the rain to call home, talk to Ruth, feel at ease, at home, if only for a while.

Ruth says that Emily has a cold, but she went to work today at Hy-Vee anyway, but now she has a chance to rest.

And it seems Ruth got a postcard from me from Albuquerque, a full-color photo of the back of the ol' brown, rusted '91 Honda and a speeding ticket for $89.


I wonder if I have sent anymore postcards home without knowing it.

I spoke in Corvallis on Friday night. It was one of the really good nights. It was upstairs at the Odd Fellows Hall, put on by the local Veterans For Peace. About twenty-five people, very nice. And then I got to stay in the back yard cottage of Bart and Leah Bolger for the night.

The next morning Bart went out to deliver mail in the snow in the hills and Leah and I went out for breakfast at The Beanery.

Around the table sat the regular group of gray-hairs, some with pony tails, talking, eating bagels, laughing, passing around petitions.

Leah and Bart are retired from the Navy. Beginning in 2000, they spent three years on a sailboat and two years in an RV — never touching the ground except to pee.

Leah has long, graying hair and on her sweater she had numbers written on masking tape. They are the number of United States soldiers killed in Iraq and below that the estimated number of Iraqi's killed in the war.

She wants people to ask her what the numbers mean.

Leah was at the recent Winter Soldier hearings in Silver Spring, Maryland. If you listen to the tapes you can hear her sobbing when a mother and father describe the process their son went through after coming back from Iraq until he committed suicide.

Leah says that she tried to get the local Gazette-Times to cover the hearings, but the editor said there was no local hook, besides his not wanting to alienate his readers and lose money.

I recall that in my first newspaper job at the Ainsworth Star-Journal in the Sandhills of Nebraska I once wrote a column about the first gulf war that said "I do not support the troops."

That was when the yellow ribbon thing was really getting started up. My column was cancelled and the publisher said he did not want to alienate his readers and thus lose money.

That burst my idealistic journalism bubble.

And I ask Leah if maybe that feeling extends all the way up through the Corvallis Gazette-Times to some fancy wood-soaked meeting room in a big CBS building, and that is why we are stupid.

A guy at the table in The Beanery, from Mississippi, grins when I ask him if Mississippi is like Iowa. His grin says, "you dumbshit."

He says that he once heard of a guy from Iowa telling a friend that he was going to visit Pittsburgh.

"Why," his friend says, "you can see it from Iowa."

It's baseball season, but you would not know it from the rain and the mud and the wood smoke smell. The Oregon State Beavers have won the College World Series the past two years. I love baseball and should go see if they are playing today.

Too cold. No time. I have to get to Portland.

I stayed with Tim & Jan Calvert in Portland. We watched "Something Funny Happened On The Way To the Moon."

Have you seen that yet? Wow.

Have you ever seen the video of the press conference of the three astronauts, Aldrin, Armstrong, Collins — the very first public appearance they had after claiming to walk on the moon.

You would think they would be high-fiving and turning somersaults.

"The freaking MOON, man! Wa-effing-hoo!"

They sit there like they are depressed, like they just ran over their own new puppy in the driveway on their way home, after midnight, after stealing their dad's car, to get drunk, with money they stole from their blind grandmother who lives in the nursing home on the edge of
town — all dimes and nickles.

Dude. We didn't go to the moon.

Dude. Is there a God?

Dude. Did our own government attack it's own country in order to start
a war and get rich?

Who killed John and Bobby and Martin?

Dude. These are things we need to talk about.

Let me getcha a Grande Mocha Breve — my personal favorite — and lets just sit and talk for awhile.

Besides, it's raining outside.


— Mike



April 2nd: Seattle, Revolution Books, 1833 Nagle Place.

7 p.m.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Snowing, rainy, sunshine, icy ... snowing, rainy, sunshine, icy ... snowing, rain..

"Some humans ain't human. Some people ain't kind. If you open up their hearts, here's what you'll find. A few frozen pizzas, some ice cubes with hair, some broken popsicles, you don't want to go there."

— John Prine
BEAVERS CANTINA, Corvallis, Oregon — The forecast for central Oregon today was "light rain, followed by hard rain, with a stint of scattered precipitation, to be followed by a period of general gloom."

This morning I left Bend, headed north on Highway 97, trying to go around the Cascades and not have to go over the summit like I did yesterday and hit the heavy snow. But 97 turned to a total white-out, so I turned around. A few miles later there is a pickup on its top. It wasn't there a few minutes ago. I found my way to I-85, Portland, Salem and down to the land of Oregon State University.

Go Beavs.

Yesterday I read at The Book Barn in Bend, owned by Linda Torres. She came to Bend from southern California in 1972. Bend was cool then.

"I hate it now," she says.

It has grown, one of the fastest growing cities in the country for a while, says my host for the day, Ray Duray. Ray is a one-man peace & justice coalition and 9/11 Truth campaign.

After my talk we go along with the "Save The Badlands" group on one part of it's three-bar pub crawl around the downtown.

I hitchhiked from Bend to Nebraska in 1978, I think it was. Roger and Bob and I came out here after Wayne State College let out for the summer. We worked in a mushroom plant in Salem. We hoped to get jobs in the woods, but didn't. I eventually got lonely for Sarah Sister Golden Hair, and I had a job lined up with the state roads department, so I rode my thumb home.

I see hitchhikers along the road quite often. So far I haven't picked anyone up. I tell myself I don't have room, too much stuff crammed into every corner. The hitchhikers are the hobos of our time. Back in California I thought about the Oakies and the "Grapes of Wrath." I try to write that book every time I start a new novel. I think the Oakies of today are from Oaxaca.

Back in Chico I had a short talk with Marylyn about the movie "Zeitgeist." Marylyn says it doesn't matter if the date Dec. 25 and resurrection, and a bunch of other stuff have been copied in several religions, doesn't mean it's not real, that there's not a God.

I just wonder if when we sit in church with our rosaries we aren't a bunch of pygmies dancing around a campfire in the middle of the woods at night.

Everyone is so full of shit
Born and raised by hypocrites
We are the kids of war and peace
From Anaheim to the middle east
We are the stories and disciples
Of the Jesus of suburbia
Land of make believe
That don't believe in me

— Green Day, Jesus of Suburbia

I came down out of the mountains and saw the Columbia River. That is why there are so many liberals out here. I can see why someone from Nebraska or Iowa wouldn't care that much about nuclear war or the end of the world. If it's ... say January 17, at about 3:30 in the afternoon, you're like, awright, whatever.

But if you were out here you would want to save this shit..

"It would be so much easier if this were a dictatorship."

— George W. Bush

If I were king for a day, I would be busy. I would put loggers and hunters in county jail. I would let the druggies go and rich people would take their place.

Yesterday in Bend the discussion came, as it does sometimes, to the question of, if Bush & Co. did 9/11 themselves, how do they live with themselves. Some people think it's because these folks are psychopathic, without a conscience. Maybe, but I'm still not sure.

Linn County Oregon is the "Grass Seed Capital of the World," so this is where America really takes root.

About a block from me, on Fourth Street, between Monroe and Jefferson Avenues, in front of the county courthouse, the longest running protest against the war is now taking place.

People have been standing out there at 5 p.m. every-effing-day for six years. That's a lot. I could be there, but there's a college basketball game on the TV here in this bar, and I have really been out of touch for the past weeks.

I'm not really Joe Protester, to tell you the truth. This book "Cost of Freedom" celebrates the many people who do the stuff like stand on street corners every day for six years, and I am glad to be a part of that, but I haven't really done that much.

I have gone to work and written my books.

Go Beavs.


— Mike


Letters from Readers


This is getting to be too much spam, please take me off your list. I need to keep this email cleared for important message related to actual organizing opportunities.

Good luck,
— Chris

You need a pee bottle for pete’s sake. Just like the truckers do.

— DW

Dude ... you're getting to see all kinds of groovy places.

I dig on Bigfoot. Have since I was in about sixth grade.

In the mid-'70s I saw movie that featured that Patterson film footage that was shown in the Ritz Theatre in Denison. I believe it was called "Mysterious Monstors."

The movie also included the Loch Ness Monster and the Yeti. My sister and I went.

I remember staring out the window each night at the corn field behind our house, halfway hoping to see a Bigfoot, and halfway hoping I didn't. The movie was sort of scary.

This may have been the same year I saw Jaws in the same theatre. I must have been only eight or nine years old. But they let me in. I left in the middle with hands over my eyes.

— David Namanny

Please take me off this list.

— Jeanne


.Enjoy reading you.

Eureka is always cold always raining,that is exactly what you found.

Eureka!..You found it!

On the subject of nuclear missile will love this.

I have a very good friend in Uzbekistan, he is dean of the university of Sanmarkand. I met him in Iowa City. Really cool guy, tap dances, plays saxophone.

But during the cold war he was in the Soviet army and his job was to calibrate all of the Russian missiles on American targets. Cool huh? pal, Kamol.

One day we were driving to Pella Days, and he was looking at the Iowa map, and laughed.

For all of the crap we were fed about Soviet surveillance systems?

They used FREE maps from the Triple A to aim the missiles back at us!

Drive good.

— Tim Tafco

Hey Mike ...

Well, it was good to have you! Too short, though. I keep thinking of other things to say. Like ... re: Bobby Kennedy ...I saw a very well-done documentary (BBC?) about Bobby which highlighted his "conversion" from what he was as Attorney General to what he became when campaigning for the presidency. Seems he was pretty hard-nosed as AG, but when he started his campaign and found himself in direct contact with the poor, his heart really softened.

Also about faith in God ...
It's always difficult for me to put this in words, but I have a sense of the fact that from the very earliest times, human beings have KNOWN that a Mystery beyond our ken has not only posited a creation, but has somehow penetrated the boundary between Thing and NO-Thing and become one with this creation. And from the earliest times, we finite human beings have tried and tried to explain this to ourselves and others by means of stories. Some do a better job than others. And always we know it's impossible for our puny little minds to understand because it would have to be a puny little God (and, therefore, no God at all) if our little minds could comprehend this Mystery.

— Marylyn

Dear Mike-

Recieved a letter this am from Tom Wodetski via email telling that only two people showed at your appearance at Cheshire Books. I couldn't make it because of another commitment, but would have loved to have been there. I've been busy trying to put together a benefit for a small shelter for children in Baghdad and working on the details; ie.- posters, tickets, PR, on my computer.

This is an unusual area in that we have a long-time, blue collar working class contingent, "resistant to change" and people who moved here in the late 60's-early 70's "back to the landers" and now the recently retired, rich folks who used to come up for vacation, who've
driven the price of property sky-high. So- it's a mix. Mostly Democrats though. A few sprinklings of Greens, Libertarians, and Whatevers--and GOP.

I have been standing against the Illegal Invasion of Iraq since before it happened, here on the coast. The mood has certainly changed towards us in the last two years toward the positive. Friends and I have organized a few rallys, marches and I stand with Women in Black every First Friday. I have worked to educate young folks about the Draft for many years. And--I'm on The Single-payer Healthcare Board for this Chapter for SB840 in CA. I am 61 and getting tired...I'm only sorry that I can't do more or be at every event possible. I am sorry I had to miss yours. Don't blame Fort Bragg tho--blame the diseases: apathy, greed and fear.

My best to you on you sojourn,

In Peace,

☮ Nancy Milano


Good, just got back from a hike around Topanga Canyon with the family. Warm and sunny in the canyon, but socked in with luscious fog here in Santa Monica. For some reason, dense marine layer coastal fog, the kind that drips from the eaves, has become a rarity. This isn't so mushy,
but it's nice. I used to live in the Mission in SF, so I enjoyed picturing you having a drink at a rooftop bar. It was less trendy in those days, but unless it's all been bulldozed, I'm sure it still
retains funk. As is so often the case, I'm listening to Sun Ra. Hope alls well.

— Rex

Mike, I've heard you comment so often about the stress of needing to pee in traffic, and as a voluminous cross-country coffee and beer drinker, I do understand the crises you've experienced.


Get yourself a pecan .... (heh, down in some parts of Oklahoma, the pronounce it pee-can). I don't travel anyplace without a pecan in my old truck. When the bladder gets full, I pull over even in heavy traffic, pull out the pecan and use it. At the earliest opportunity, I take the opportunity to empty it. Sometimes even at the spot where I used it. Just open the door a bit and dump it on the assfault.

— Larry Hicks


I've been getting your travel notes via email from a friend.

How may I get on your email list to receive these wonderful missives?

I've shared them with various political people on my email list and most are thoroughly enjoying your take on life, the world, the road.

BTW, I work for the actor/ activist Ed Asner and he's been enjoying too.

— Patty Egan
Personal Assistant to
Ed Asner


We want to accept your article but it needs a bit more work, as described below.

You submitted an article titled:
Wealth is a Very Dangerous Thing To Hold in One's Hand

— Op Ed News Administrator

P.S. You need to remove "shit," and substitute something else. While foul language may be appropriate to impart strong emotion, it is just gratuitous as you have used it here. The same may be said with your described urinary tract urgency.

Your Original Submission is attached to this email

Please do NOT reply to this email; no one will see it.

Dear Mike,

I enjoyed your book very much. Thanks for your daily dose of e-sanity in a world gone mad.

Stay cool,


* * * * * * * * *
— David Mathison

On March 19, I dragged my friend Kim, a special ed. teacher, to a war protest held in Memorial Park in Omaha, NE, and organized by Earlier, Friends for Peace, held a rally in the same location. It was cold and damp and got dark quickly. The speeches were too long and the wind got stronger as each speech got longer. We held placards protesting the war and flashlights or glow sticks. Kim and I shared a blanket I’d brought as the rain began to fall. When the wind rushed up the hillside like an attack of shrieking, suicidal banshees, we caved and headed for the car. We were followed by the remainder of the protesters and a few lightweight lawn chairs! Where was the press to cover the protest? Where was the follow-up reporting in the next day’s newspapers? No one cares because the media is keeping it out of the news. And who owns the media?

— Kathleen J.

Hey Mike-
You’re in the best part of the state now. Someday I will move back there, not sure I should have left.. But I did. I’d be glad to unblock Namanny, if I knew what that was, or how to do it. He emailed me and replied a couple of weeks ago. I’ll email him again. I doubt you’ll find anyone that remembers me, it was almost 20 years ago.
Jesus – that’s a long time – who’d a thunk?
Take care, stay out of trouble and try to avoid the body casts

— Lundquist

Well, Holy Easter Crap, Auto-Crusader!

Careful of all those nerves you're touchin' Out There! And just remember, when Zinn was in MN a few years back, here's what he said:
You try and you try and you try and you try; and you try and you try and you try and you try; and nothing happens.
Then, one day, it does.
It's all about process, putting in place an alternative vibe, sending an alternative message, as we keep heading toward a better way of being, while hoping we don't blow ourselves up, or completely wreck the planet, first.

— Leigh

Dear Mike,

We're still aglow from the other night with yr powerful presenation & encourage us to try to harmonize. Onwords!

— David & Judy Ray

Mike, thanks SO MUCH for the copy of IOWA TERROR -- it's even better than I remember it from the file. I very much like the presentation -- the cover slightly reminds me of a coloring book, which I like, and the illustrations extend that feeling. And though the sans serif font
is not supposed to work for longer documents, it seems to do well here, maybe especially because the paragraphs are short. Just excellent all around.

— Phil Hey

San Francisco Anarchist Book Fair

Some thoughtful commentary on the San Francisco Anarchist Book Fair, by Paul Corman Roberts. Paul, Mike Palecek and Dan Benbow recently Cost of Freedom at the fair.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

In northern CA, amid the mountains, the redwoods, the beer, bait ...

..& Bigfoot.

"Well how do ya do, young Willie McBride, do you mind if I sit down here, by your graveside?"
— Erik Bogel, The Greenfields of France
LOST COAST BAR & CAFE, Eureka, CA — It's cold, rainy, and the good ol' boys are lining the bar. We are not in Santa Monica anymore.

One of the guys comes up to me and slurs in my ear, seeing me with my computer, "you must be the only intelligent person in town."

I doubt it. I seriously doubt it.

"When we came upon the creature it was standing still by the creek. It immediately turned and walked away."

That's Bob Gimlin describing finding Bigfoot near Willow Creek, California in 1967, along with Roger Patterson.

I passed through Willow Creek today while coming through the northern California mountains on my way from Chico to Eureka.

Yesterday I spoke at Chico State University, then stayed the night up on the mountain with Marylyn Felion in her cabin. Marylyn is an old friend from the 1980s when we were both in Omaha working on various peace and justice projects.

One of the things we did was go to Offutt Air Force Base and "cross the line," which is trespassing, in order to speak out against America's military machine, in hopes of stopping the United States from destroying the world and also in hope that the money might rather be spent on the poor of north Omaha.

On one occasion Marylyn was due to go to federal court along with another friend to face trespassing charges at Offutt.

Rather than show up in court they decided to take sanctuary in the Cathedral of the Omaha Catholic Church, and make it very public, in order to try to get the Omaha Catholic Church and Archbishop Daniel Sheehan to speak out against the targeting of nuclear weapons taking place at Offutt.

So, weeks before the date, the church knew about it, the press knew about it, and apparently the FBI knew about it too.

They raided Marylyn's home at five in the morning and also the home of the other defendant, Kevin McGuire.

Kevin and his family were not home. They lived with Ruth and I and Sam at Greenfields, a resistance community in north Omaha, named after the Irish anti-war song, The Greenfields of France. Kevin and Laura were out at the lake. Ruth and Sam and I were in Norfolk visiting my mother.

At Marylyn's her housemates were able to lock the doors before the FBI could get in, and they thought the feds had departed. But when Marylyn's dog had to be taken outside to do its duty the FBI cars swooped down the street from all directions.

Marylyn's 70-year-old landlady, Jean Petersen, tried to block the way but was shoved to the side. Another roommate, a young man, blocked the steps. Marylyn demanded identification and a warrant, and one agent said they did not need to provide any.

Marylyn then hurried upstairs to call the press and also the Omaha police, saying strangers were in her home claiming they were the FBI.

The police and the press arrived and Marylyn was taken away on camera. It was the lead story on television and radio for days in Omaha. Friends then crossed the line in protest of the treatment of Marylyn — then Kevin, in hiding until a few days later, was able to undertake the
original sanctuary action, with additional press coverage.

So, the FBI and the Omaha Catholic Church were not able to hush up the sanctuary action with their early morning raids. They only served to give it even more attention.

Well, Marylyn's cabin is up in the big woods near Cohasset, outside of Chico. We have a great late-night old-home session, remembering the days of the '80s in Omaha, and lots of old friends.

In the morning I head off toward Redding and then turn east on 299 to go through the mountains.

Around and around, up, up, down, down. It's raining, then foggy.

The puffs of clouds and fog look like dozens of little fires in the forest.

I pass the Bigfoot Campground, Bigfoot Rafting, Bigfoot Burger, and Bigfoot Bait.

Must be some sort of theme.

I see the sign for Willow Creek.

Another I-can't-believe-I'm-here moment.

I think I saw a Bigfoot on two occasions. Once was in southern Minnesota in the '90s driving along the interstate late at night. The other was in the '80s while I was walking up on a hillside in Spearfish Canyon in South Dakota.

Anyway, I love the woods. I think it's the mystery. You can't see what's there, you can only imagine.

I'm following the beautiful Trinity River. At the top the rain becomes snow and ice, then rain again at the bottom.

Off to the left I see some black things on the mountainside. I pull over in a parking area and stare. They are a long ways off, but I definitely see about ten black things on the mountainside. I don't have binoculars. I'm thinking Bigfoot because I have Bigfoot on the brain — but they look like they are on all-fours.

Cows? Cows way up in the mountain? Where is the farm? Why way up there?

As I drive away I think bears maybe. Do bears hang around in packs of ten? Elk? Are elk black? I didn't see antlers, but I was a long way away.

I just don't know.

The mountains and the woods.

Beautiful. Mystery.


— Mike

Here is an excerpt from Looking For Bigfoot, Howling Dog Press, 2006.

Bigfoot is about a man, Jack Robert King, who leaves his Iowa home to go west, in search of the truth about America.

... from Looking For Bigfoot ...

"They shot down or lasered-down Wellstone's plane and they really did attack their own Pentagon.

I see this and I have zero documentation. I don't care. I have all the proof I need from the glazed look in your eye as you struggle to attach the American flag to your car antenna.

I understand America by watching you.

I know it from growing up in the Midwest of America, from playing baseball and football and riding down the middle of the street with no hands eating an ice cream cone. The strawberry drips on my T-shirt and I don't care. Mom will wash it, clean it up, just as she rinses the blood of a thousand Chileans from her hands. A lemony spray makes everything smell fresh.

I see more than I want to in the referee's face as he prepares the jump-ball toss and the smile of the drive-up teller as she helps another customer.

Would evil men and women kill in order to gain absolute power? Pretty darn near impossible to believe when they look just like us and sound like us, tell the same tired jokes and watch the same TV shows.

I do know, because I saw it myself over the top of my SuperSize Diet Pepsi, that while children are being bombed to gooey bits, the mail still arrives at our house at ten, and the garbage is picked up at one, school dismisses at three-thirty and Raymond comes on at seven.

I see the banality of evil old Mrs. Schwartz using her tongs to set another fish square into a slot on a lunch tray at St. Mark's elementary as a child in Baghdad has his nose blown off by a bomb he thought was a toy.

I do not have a leaked file or a tidbit of information or an inside source.

I know all I need to know from seeing your guilty face staring out into the night while you wash dishes, or leaning out the car window to order an A&W root beer, or chasing your children into the school house with one last admonition.

I don't need to know George Bush or Karl Rove.

I know you."



March 26: Eureka, CA
100 Fires Bookstore

730 p.m.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Why I Still Heart Ralph Nader

I want to break from my usual mode of posting on Cost of Freedom and Mike's tour (which, if you've missed his updates, can be found to your right in the archive -- worth checking out! stay safe in Oregon, MP!), to post about something more personal.

Ralph Nader. And why I still love him.

From an interview in this week's Newsweek:

Howard Fineman: You've done more than one life's worth of work. Why go do this at this point?

Ralph Nader: Well, you're asking a personal question. So I will give you an unusual personal answer. I have a very deep well of empathy, and I take my motivation from what I see around the country. And I'll give it to you just briefly, statistically: 47 million people who make less than $10.50 an hour—six and a half, seven, eight dollars an hour before deductions; 45 million people without health care, 18,000 of whom die every year, according to the National Academy of Sciences, because they can't afford health care; 13 million children who go to bed hungry every night; 45 million people in dire poverty; 58,000 people who die from workplace-connected diseases and trauma every year, according to [the Occupational Safety and Health Administration]; 65,000 people who can't breathe, and die because of air pollution. I mean, do I have to go on? I mean, just what more evidence is needed that each and every one of us who has an ability to improve his or her country has got to do what they have to do within the confines of the Constitution and rule of law and freedom of speech?
I don't need to go into the politics, or the issues, or the 2000 election, or all the boring stuff we make a pretense of caring about, even though we ignore those Common Dreams or Save Darfur alerts that clutter our inboxes.

This is the reality: we're in this because we know (we know) this is wrong.

We don't have to justify it -- it just is. If you are a human being, and you live on planet earth, you know that it is wrong that people live in crushing poverty; that children go to bed hungry at night; that mothers have to lose their children because of corporate greed.

Ralph Nader knows it, I know it, you know, we all know it. As Nader says, if you have the ability to change these statistics, how can you not do everything in your power to do so?

This is what it means to pay the cost of freedom.

Wealth is a very dangerous thing to hold in one's hand

"We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee."
— Merle Haggard
THE HEADLANDS CAFE, Ft. Bragg, CA — Lots of vineyards and shit around here.

Did you see the movie Sideways? I am in it, it is me, if you take out the sex and the wine and most of the other stuff.

In Santa Cruz I stayed with Russell Brutsche, who did the art for the cover of Iowa Terror.

Rus is a self-described old hippie, art major, who rents out his home to a family and lives in the garage in back with no TV and no overhead.

I met with the folks at the Peace & Justice Center then went for a walk with Rus in the woods. Rus told me about art and peace and shit and I looked around for Bigfoot. He told me about an action being planned at the local military recruiter's offices to commemorate the death of the
4,000th American soldier in Iraq.

The next morning back up through Oakland and San Francisco, up through Sonoma and wine country. Can you imagine the amount of labor it takes to put those vine contraptions together?

There are cows lounging on the green hillsides like Roman senators, some big sheep.

I turn left at a busy intersection in Willits, headed for Ft. Bragg.

Lots of redwoods around there and shit.

Winding, winding, up, down, it's almost like the highway headed north out of Los Angeles they call "the grapevine." It's third gear straight up, in the dark, then eighty miles an hour straight down with semis and SUVS all around you, curving, and you are going to die. It takes you
about half an hour to descend down to the plains around Bakersfield, like an airliner approaching landing.

Excuse me. ... I'm going to put on my earphones and listen to Jerry Jeff Walker sing about Charlie Dunn, too much jabbering around me.

I spent most of yesterday stopping to pee. Some days are like that. Some days aren't.

Regular readers will recall that during last year's tour I got caught in traffic in Chicago and had to let fly on the floor of my car. I got home and Ruth asked me what's that smell? Nothing. I can't smell anything. I left the windows down all summer. It's fine now.

Yesterday I missed the turn for GG Bridge, Hwy 101 North, and ended up on the filming site for that old TV show "The Streets of San Francisco." Woah. That is when you think you are going to die. Trapped in a big city at an endless red light, you are lost, you have to pee so bad, so bad. And you will die.

And then you don't.

"It's a half an inch of water and you think you're gonna drown."
— John Prine

And then there is the GG Bridge.


But it's foggy and you can barely see well enough to drive, let alone admire the bridge. But the family back home doesn't know that. You can still tell them you have been to the GG Bridge — in San Francisco, and you did not pee in your pants or your car! You are quite the old Dad. Your car will not stink this summer. You are a hero.

Lots of ocean around here and shit.

I did not know that. You come out of the winding roads and maybe you have not stopped your car to throw up and you cruise into Ft. Bragg and there is the goddamn ocean right there, crashing against the rocks.


Seagulls swooping and shit. Some are mostly white, others are mostly grey. They are big, like ducks, like the mourning doves in Tucson.

And it's whale time out there. If you stare long enough you might see one. Greys. You don't.

I did a book signing at Cheshire Books. Nobody showed, but the owner, Linda Rosengarten, took time to sit and tell me the history of the area, about the mill, the fishing, the Pomo Indians. I guess Ft. Bragg was named for Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, "the home of the airborne and special forces operations," which was named for Gen. Braxton Bragg.

The mill is closed, a toxic waste dump dilemma, the salmon and halibut are gone, the Pomo are walking the streets, and Braxton Bragg is dust.

And they had a dinner-with-the-author meal at five at Mendo Bistro, very fancy.

We had a table for eight, but it was just me and Linda, my guide for the day. Linda is very nice. She is deaf so I have to look at her as I talk. We both order mahi-mahi. I've never heard of it. It's okay, but it makes me think of eating cocker-spaniel. We also have mashed potatoes. I like those.

Afterwards Linda went to the library to set up chairs and I went back out to the ocean, past the turn to Pomo College, to call Ruth and sit and watch for oceans, for God, for sea turtles.

There were two people besides Linda at my thing. It was good. We talked about 911 and elections and the government and protesting.

I spent the night at the home of Ft. Bragg city council person Meg Courtney.

She had a late meeting, but in the morning we had coffee and bagels. She said one of the big issues of the night before had to do with marijuana.

Seems the citizens of Ft. Bragg are haggling over how much marijuana to smoke.

Back home we don't talk about marijuana. We talk about whether it is moral to mow your lawn on Sunday.

I am glad there is a place in this world that they are not worried about going to hell for bagging grass on God's Big Day.

Meg and I ask each other why marijuana isn't legal. I wonder why we have millions of "this Bud's for you" commercials and then we go and put people into prison for years and years for smoking marijuana.

Oh ... on the way up I saw the sign for San Quentin. I looked right. There it is. May it burn. May the walls crumble. May the Pomo Indians rise up again, may the forests grow back and the fish return.

I'm back ...

I watched Zeitgeist again last night, on the CD that Michael and Maureen Smith gave me in Santa Cruz. It scares the shit out of me, especially that first part about religion.

The intro by George Carlin is also great.

But it's like — there is no God and shit — that is a lie, too.


Okay, on to Chico. I'll be staying with Marylyn. I knew her back in Omaha in the days of resistance of the '80s.


— Mike

For those of you who have time, here is a piece of mine that is in Cost of Freedom.

It's from Terror Nation, Mainstay Press, 2006.

This is Charlie, who is in the mental institution in his small Iowa hometown for writing anti-Bush letters to the editor.

Here is one of his letters.

To President George W. Bush,

Sir, I cannot help but disrespect you, no matter how hard I might try not to.

I was raised to respect authority: mom and dad, teachers, the police, the President.

But that's unlikely anymore.

I am older and I cannot help but see certain things ...

Sir, I must tell you, because you do not appear to know: compassion is the most important thing, the only thing that really, really matters.

If you were truly a man of God, I would not need to inform you. And it is the poor who are most important in the world.

Wealth is a very dangerous thing to hold in one's hand. I fear it is too late for you. No, of course I must take that back. It can never be too late.

What I mean to say is that it appears you will not change, that you are
a lost soul.

And no matter who it is, that is never something I could be happy about.

Even for you.

— Charlie Johnson



March 25: Chico
CSU Campus
Glenn Hall, Room 212, 6:30pm
526 Broadway 95928
(530) 893-9078

March 26: Eureka, CA
100 Fires Bookstore

Sunday, March 23, 2008

COF does LA, SF, Santa Cruz

"Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug."
— Mary Chapin Carpenter
SANTA CRUZ, California — "Take me off of your mailing list you arrogant, ego tripping ass."

You'll have to say please.

"I am not a pacifist Mike. Either remove me from your email list or if/and when you come to Portland you will leave in a body cast!"

That was an email exchange from one of my admirers after the column I sent out about Homeland Security and immigration from Douglas, Arizona.

Anyway, onward, huh?

I was in Los Angeles on Friday, at Track 16 Art Gallery in Santa Monica. Four of us who are in Cost of Freedom — Elena, Thomas, Rex, me — had a discussion with about twenty people about the war, war protests.

Part of the back-and-forth was about the lack of effectiveness of what we are doing to really do much to stop the war.

It's true. From way back when I started to write "Killing George Bush" up in my room in Iowa, one of the difficulties, besides knowing how to write a novel, was what good will it do.

I dunno. I did it anyway.

For all you who sent up prayers to St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost causes — driving in Los Angeles [I call it L.A.] was fine.

I was even early and found the beach at Santa Monica, the place where they filmed some movies I'm sure, and the opening to "Three's Company," remember that shit show? Well, it's got the long line of palm trees and sand and skateboards, and now it's got an imprint of my fat butt in the sand. Maybe you'll see that in some of the movies they film there from here on out. I know I'll be looking for it.

Then on to San Francisco, the Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair in the Haight district, Golden Gate Park. I missed one of the turns on my Mapquest directions and drove around Chinatown for a while.

I sat at a table with Dan Benbow and Paul Corman Roberts, who also are in Cost of Freedom.

Lots of people there. Lots of people wearing black. The young people must do that these days. Didn't sell any books, but I was able to get the need to attend book fairs out of my system, probably forever.

I got to meet Tom Edminster, who was in the Community for Creative Non-violence in D.C. back in the day, along with Mitch Snyder and others. Tom now teaches ESL at a San Francisco high school. Tom and I have been exchanging emails over the years and Tom took the time to
come over and see me while I was in town.

Also talked to Jim Fleming from Autonomedia and New York City, the one who risked his life to fight the crowds away after my reading at Bluestockings bookstore last year so I could make my escape into the night.

Afterwards Dan and his friend, Larry, and I went walking around the Mission district. We had a drink on a rooftop bar, looking out at the skyline of San Francisco.

Then we had supper, spaghetti, garlic bread, wine, prepared by Dan's girlfriend, Ariel.

Water for me, please. No drinking on this tour. No puking on church front lawns. I am waaaay too smart for that.

Larry wants to get a job in Bangkok. Dan is going next week to spend two weeks in New York City by himself, writing. Ariel is a Witch, capital "W." She is a nice Witch.

Today is Santa Cruz, at the Center for Nonviolence. I have a parking spot for my car and I see there is a movie theater close by. I might go see that show about prehistoric times, what's the name?

Tomorrow it's up to northern California for three dates.

See you there.

— Mike

Here's something on the whole immigration-terror-Ammurikan issue from Iowa Terror.

Chapter Eleven

Pinch Puta Store Detective

Que paso?

I am sitting in Gregg's Hometown Foods.

Store Detective, looking for terrorists, securing the homeland on the front lines.

As always, just trying to do my part to ensure the freedom of my fellow Americans.

I am looking for Mexicans who might be illegally alive, who do not have the proper stamp on the papers in their pocket, and thus deserve to be separated from their weeping children and sent to wherever we want to send them in a hot, crowded white INS van piloted by highly trained,
intelligent professionals with their uniformed butts smearing Ho-Ho's into the vinyl seat.

The whole thing is planned by licensed Christians in churches, in chambers, in Congress, to keep poor people and their children from having Frosted Flakes in the morning.

Because ... their crawling from zero to one might conceivably hamper us from getting from ten to eleven.

If you can see me from where you are seated you know that I am also sitting, on the floor, in the corner between the white milk and the tortillas, at the far end of the Mexican Foods Aisle.

It is my charge to find any Islamiscists, Hispanunists, or other terror-type individuals.

I am also to tackle anyone I suspect of being from Nebraska. Gregg says.

This is where I will find my insurgents.

And though I do not understand their language, I know enough to know when they are hiding something, or planning to meet with Jesus Iowa to topple the towers, collapse Casey's, dump the Dairy Queen, pillage Pizza Hut.

That jabber-jabber is all about planning with other foreign types to seek out sales on box cutters, steal leaves.

These they get here have dust and weird stickers on their shoes from walking all the way up through El Paso and shit, and Agua Prieta, Douglas, all those off-brand towns.

And they have to leave their home towns behind or maybe, probably grandma and their new puppy.

Whatever. My grandparents probably did the same thing.

I can almost taste the salsa in the jars across the aisle.

I like Mexican food. Everybody does.

I've never had any other terror-type food, expect Fred claims the sandwich came from Iraq.

That sounds like bullcrap, but I wonder if I would like Afghan pizza ... or Nebraska corn.

I am undercover, as per usual.

I am wearing a big, wide sombrero.

My head is drooping to my knees.

But I am not sleeping. Sometimes I am sleeping. Sometimes snoring. I get a beeper.

I am wearing a new, white T-shirt with blood-red letters: Pinche Puta Store Detective.

Pretty cool.

Go about your day.

I got this.



March 23: Santa Cruz, CA
Resource Center for Non Violence, 4-6pm
515 Broadway

March 24: Fort Bragg/Mendocino
Cheshire Books
Fort Bragg Public Library Conference Room, 3pm
Highway 1

March 25: Chico
CSU Campus
Glenn Hall, Room 212, 6:30pm
526 Broadway 95928
(530) 893-9078

March 26: Eureka, CA
100 Fires Bookstore

Friday, March 21, 2008

If I can just get off of this L.A. freeway without getting killed..

You see Amarillo, Gallup, New Mexico, Flagstaff, Arizona. Don't forget
Winona, Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino.
— Bobby Troup, Get Your Kicks on Route 66
BARSTOW, CALIFORNIA —Hello. Spent the night in the Mojave Desert, amid the Joshua Trees, though I could not see anything, only a long, continuous line of vehicle lights headed up I-15 from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

I drove from Tucson to Las Vegas yesterday, spent an hour in traffic getting over the Hoover Dam, trying not to pee all over my floor, then had time to enjoy rush-hour traffic in Las Vegas. I saw the exit sign for The Strip.

Then I met with the Las Vegas Drinking Liberally group at a restaurant and pub. If you ever get a chance to sit around and talk to a group of Democrats for hours and hours, I suggest you shoot yourself instead.

I got out of there, found the interstate and drove into the night, listening out my broken driver's side window for Wolfman Jack.

My radio doesn't work, so I just concentrate on worrying about every imaginable car failure. I did kind of see the Las Vegas strip out of my peripheral vision as I passed downtown. Wow. Cool. Awesome. I couldn't wait to get out of there.

I've got a new bumper sticker: This Vehicle Makes Frequent Stops For Urination.

The Tucson event on Thursday night was great. Leon Byerly just did an outstanding job of organizing.

We had about seventy people. That's more of a crowd than I had on last year's book tour combined.

I shared the microphone with a bunch of great poets: Lylvia Soto, David Ray, Nora Nickerson, Michael Rattee, Michael Gregory, and we got to see the work of artist Joe Rebhbolz, which also appeared in the book "Cost of Freedom," by Howling Dog Press.

Here's a recent review of Iowa Terror by Seth Sandronsky in the Chico News-Review.

Thank you for all the well wishes I have received on this trip. I appreciate it. And for those I have not heard from yet, just send cash.

Here is a piece of mine from "Cost of Freedom."

See ya in Los Angeles.

— Mike

from "The Truth" [2003]

And I Laugh

There's a photo on the Internet that makes me laugh.

A little, brown boy holding a silent scream forever in four-color.


The horrified little fellow now has no arms or legs, or brothers, sisters or parents, and I laugh out loud.

I laugh at the Marines, being all they could possible be in God's creation, at their tough-man commercials. The Army of One. What a hoot.

The rough-guy coaches and players who let this boy die — what comedy watching them feel strong while letting the real battles be fought by little guys with sticks and bicycles.

The boy has a bandaged head.

He looks so scared his hair might turn white, as in a Hitchcock film, and it sort of makes me chuckle.

I laugh at the ministers here in town and here on this TV saying bless our troops as they defend our freedom.

I laugh at the well-schooled and-coifed newspaper columnists with their earnest close-cropped photos in four hundred papers read by forty million people in forty million cities.

And I laugh.

The boy is flat on his back on dirty cement, with his stubs hastily wrapped in Ace bandages, surrounded by the world trying to get a look, by photographers and people on their way to work and out to dinner.

We are nothing. Nothing. Nothing!

Because this boy now has no arms. No legs.

Nothing we do today will mean a thing because we have ripped the arms and legs from this boy as if he was a fly and we are us.

The boy could be my boy, lying there at the feet of the world and the world looking the other way.

Goddamn us.


Give us what we deserve.

If you are a just God, rain down fire and hell upon our heads. Lighting bolts in our back yards and rivers of excrement down our smooth, well-scrubbed streets.

Please, dear God we pray.

When I awoke this morning, I thought it essential to the world order and being right, and a good person, that I shave, help out with the dishes, be on time, and drive on the right side of the road.

Do a good job. Be pleasant. Smile.

But now I just can't stop laughing.

The world thinks it still matters, and that's kind of funny in a way.

There, the flag flying over the Catholic elementary school and the yellow ribbons tied to the light poles on both sides of Main Street.

Stray cats wearing yellow ribbons around their necks, roaming the night, looking both ways before crossing the street, as if it mattered.

You are never so wrong as when you damage a young boy.

We sit down here like the Who's in Whoville celebrating the coming of War Season while this boy lies on the cold floor.

Tee. Hee-hee.



March 21: Los Angeles, CA
Track 16 Art Center, 7pm

March 22: San Francisco, CA
Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair

March 23: Santa Cruz, CA
Resource Center for Non Violence, 4-6pm
515 Broadway

March 24: Fort Bragg/Mendocino
Cheshire Books
Fort Bragg Public Library Conference Room, 3pm
Highway 1

March 25: Chico
CSU Campus
Glenn Hall, Room 212, 6:30pm
526 Broadway 95928
(530) 893-9078
Please Check HERE for Exact Time, Date and Location

March 26: Eureka, CA
100 Fires Bookstore

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Homeland Security is a joke ... on the Arizona-Mexico border

"I am, I am, I am.
"I am a patriot. And I love my country. Because my country is all I know."
— Jackson Browne, I Am A Patriot
DOUGLAS, ARIZONA — "Manuel Escandon Morales!"


Tuesday I took part in a ceremony in downtown Douglas.

Local activists and visiting students from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa, near my home town of Sheldon, Iowa, were also there on alternative spring break.

We each hold our cross in the air and the rest say "Presente!"

On the white cross I hold it says that Manuel was born Feb. 15, 1967.

He died June 26, 2002 in the desert of Cochise County, outside of Douglas.

Because he had to hide. We would not let him walk in on the sidewalk. He was a man with heart, who wanted a good life for his children, and we killed him.

We stand on the Pan American Highway, which runs from Douglas into Agua Prieta, Mexico.

When we are done the road is lined with white crosses.

The crosses run from the border patrol port of entry down the road to the intersection at the fast food restaurant.

I'm staying with Paul and Judy Plank. The rest of the year they live about a half hour from me in Iowa, in Remsen.

During the past ten winters they have been coming to Arizona. They live in the Arizona Friends Community outside of Douglas.

Each week the Planks attend the Tuesday vigils, organized by the local group Healing Our Borders. Judy is also involved in a many other local projects to help the migrants, providing work, blankets encouragement.

This is what we should all be doing.

But we are not.

We also spent $25 million for a new Border Patrol station at Douglas. There is lots of money, lots of jobs in keeping other people poor. There is all kinds of high-tech cameras and sensing devices set up all around in the desert.

We are on a tour of the area and out to look at the twelve-foot-tall fence. A border patrol agent sits in a green and white jeep.

As we leave another agent comes up for the 3 p.m. shift change — to watch the fence, in case some poor people decide to risk their lives to make a better life for their children, we will be there to make sure they go to jail.

The real terrorists are George Bush & Co. They did 911. That is whom we have to fear, not Manuel Morales.

I am for open borders.

I think, since we are a Christian nation, that we should help poor people. That's kind of what Christianity is all about. I ask Paul and Judy if anyone in their group would agree with me.

"Oh, yes!" they both say.

Paul and Judy will head back to Iowa in about three weeks, to see family and to escape rattlesnake season in the desert. Judy once had to chase one away from her porch with a broom.

I ask about the cactus, the plants, the trees, everything.

"Mesquite, Yucca."

Paul adds a note about tarantulas and scorpions.

"There's nothing warm and cuddly here," says Paul. "Everything is either hard, prickly, or poking."

On Highway 80 into Douglas I passed the "Geronimo Surrenders" monument.

I look around and realize this is where Geronimo was. He's not here anymore. We killed him.

... "but Tonto he was smarter, and one day said, Kimosabe — kiss my
ass, I bought a boat, I'm going out to sea."
— Lyle Lovett, If I Had A Boat

Judy notes that once a year they go over to Agua Prieta to "Revolution Days" where all the children dress up with mustaches and big hats to look like Pancho Villa.


He was later killed too, by an assassin to gain a United States reward.

A few days earlier Judy went with friends to Fort Huachuca, one of the places where our military interrogators are trained, such as the ones at Abu Ghraib. The fort is also the place where the Buffalo Soldiers were stationed, the ones who slaughtered the Indians.

In the morning we watch the Winter Soldiers hearings on Democracy Now. Paul and Judy have a grandson serving in Iraq.

Everyone should have seen those hearings.

Why didn't that happen?

One former soldier states:

"This country's apathy. Our president's continued rhetoric. You are all responsible."

He then ripped up the medal General Petraeus had pinned on him.

If that were on NBC, that would be the end of the war.

Another mother and father talk about how their son came to kill himself after coming back from five months in Iraq.

Ever wonder if you're on the wrong side of the fence?

I do.


— Mike


March 19: Tucson

Location: Northwest Neighborhood Center

Time: 6pm.

March 20: Las Vegas, Drinking Liberally

Location: Tenaya Creek Restaurant & Brewery
Address: 3101 Tenaya Way
Time: 630 pm.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Old home week in west Texas ...

"It was Christmas in prison and the food was real good, we had turkey and pistols carved out of wood."
— John Prine, Christmas in Prison

The homes in New Mexico look just like the Flintstones' house.

This is Bedrock.

I've already had a few "I can't believe I'm here" moments on this trip. Yesterday was another.

I drove past my old prison, La Tuna. It's just west of Anthony, Texas.

It looks pretty much like I remembered from 1986. It's a big, white adobe with a Spanish mission design. I don't know what La Tuna means.

I came there from the Omaha county jail, and the high-rise federal prison in downtown Chicago. We took a white prison bus from Chicago to Leavenworth for an overnight, then to the federal prison in El Reno, Oklahoma, then on to extreme west Texas.

I was there for a few months. The whole thing was a nightmare, but when I dream of La Tuna it's more like remembering a fond old neighborhood. It was warm there. I eventually started to settle in and sometimes it wasn't so bad. The Sunday morning Mexican brunch was really good.

It was so far from Nebraska that I really had trouble imagining that the moon I saw at night was the same that Ruth was seeing.

The Mexican Mafia was in La Tuna, and Italian guys, mob guys? I suppose.

I was there for stepping over a white line outside Offutt Air Force Base, near Omaha, in protest of the American military, the targeting of nuclear weapons, the spending of money on weapons to kill rather than the poor in north Omaha.

It was a misdemeanor. Try telling your prison buddies you are in on a misdemeanor.
..." and creatin' a disturbance.
"And they all moved over toward me on the group W bench."
— Arlo Guthrie, Alice's Restaurant
Just south of La Tuna is the Rio Grande and Juarez, Mexico.

There were men from Juarez in the jail and also from El Paso. There was also a group of young black men from Washington, D.C.

I refused to work one time in protest against money sent by the U.S. to the military in El Salvador. That was interesting. And later I learned that Fr. Larry Rosebaugh had spent a much, much longer time in that hole area of the prison. I am honored to have even spent one day
walking in the footsteps of Rosebaugh.

They had a baseball team at La Tuna, but I got released before I got a chance to play.

There are many people on this tour who are telling me they are concerned about the United States government not relinquishing power non-violently through the upcoming elections.

They say that martial law will be put into effect. They think that Bush will attack Iran, possibly with nuclear weapons.

They say the reason is that these people have spent all this time building up power and will not just give it up in November. I hear much talk about the Bilderberg group and the corruption of the Clintons and the Bushes.

I have no reason to disbelieve what I am hearing. I don't have any inside information though.

The desert is cool.

Wiiide open spaces. Makes me want to take a long walk to see what's out there. Maybe find God, or maybe Fred and Barney, sitting behind a big rock, smoking, hiding from Wilma and Betty.

I'm listening to a lot of music on my iPod. My daughter, Emily, was kind enough to let me take hers along.

Wouldn't you love to be able to play the lead-in guitar lick to "L.A. Freeway"? How about "Rocky Mountain High"?

Okay, seeya.

— Mike

p.s. I saw this last night. It's a real reporter. We don't have but one of those in the whole United States.

It's Alex Jones confronting an FBI agent at Waco.

March 18: Bisbee, Arizona
Location: St. John's Episcopal Church
Address: 19 Sowles Ave.
Time: 7 pm.

March 19: Tucson
Location: Northwest Neighborhood Center
Time: 6pm.

March 20: Las Vegas, Drinking Liberally
Location: Tenaya Creek Restaurant & Brewery
Address: 3101 Tenaya Way
Time: 630 pm.

Monday, March 17, 2008

But ... the United States does not torture ...

sTAOS, NEW MEXICO — Keith McHenry notes that the United States Congress has recently voted to allow torture.

Keith knows that torture has been used in the U.S. for a long time. "I thought I was going to die, but I didn't, so I'm writing my memoirs."

Keith McHenry has fibromyalgia.

Keith's malady comes from being tortured by the CIA.

"It was intense," says Keith.

He now runs the Taos Peace House.

Keith has been a foot soldier for the peace movement for over three decades.

It began as an art student in Boston where he and friends fed the needy.

He also ran an ad agency in Boston. His clients were the Boston Red Sox, Boston Patriots, Boston Celtics.

"It's wild, huh?" he says.

Keith is the co-founder of the worldwide organization Food Not Bombs. It's growing all the time. There are even fifty chapters in Russia.

In the '90s he received forty-seven felony charges in San Francisco for feeding the hungry. He was framed with three other convictions and was the first white person to face the three strikes life in prison law.

He spent months in prison going through trial on those charges and was on Amnesty International's victims list.

Keith says he was tortured in the San Francisco county jail by CIA agent Tom Gerard on four separate occasions, over a period of years. He know the name because he later went to court to sue, but did not win.

He says the torturers hung him up by his arms, and stuck him inside a little cage, thus the pain he suffers today.

He didn't talk about the torture, not publicly, until after Abu Ghraib.

Keith was also the one responsible for the WTO protests in Seattle. In the late '90s he took a tour of cities around the country talking about the WTO and the coming dominance of corporations over individuals.

"We said the minute the WTO announces a meeting in North America, we're going to start planning."

He also started Indymedia, coming out of the Seattle days.

He also ran Leonard Peltier's defense committee, in Lawrence, Kansas, for three years.

Keith says that after Clinton failed to pardon Peltier, Leonard got depressed and fired everybody.

I say that I just don't understand why Clinton didn't grant the pardon.

Keith says he thinks it was because "they," the FBI, CIA — they — threatened to kill Clinton if he did.

"That's the way this country works," Keith says.

He says he knows that because he heard the same — that they would be killed — from at least two judges in his cases regarding his torture, who would not admit certain evidence into the case. Once on an elevator one of those judges told Keith and his attorney, "I wish I could have
done something."

Keith lives in the mountains near Taos.

"At the base."

One of his neighbors is Donald Rumsfeld.

"Isn't that wild? A year and a half ago I was homeless."

And his bicycle? It's Julia Roberts' old bike. She lives across the
road from Keith.

Keith notes that Taos is in the poorest county in New Mexico and that New Mexico has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation. There are about equal number of Pueblo Indians, Hispanics and Gringos here.

Keith's local Food Not Bombs group serves meals out of the Peace House every week.

Food Not Bombs, with Keith driving one of the big buses, was also at Camp Casey with Cindy Sheehan outside President Bush's Crawford ranch.

Keith says the FBI infiltrated the group, trying to disrupt activities, move the protesters away from the main entrance to the ranch.

But it didn't work, not with Keith McHenry and FNB on the scene.

Four days after Camp Casey closed, Hurricane Katrina hit.

Keith and his Food Not Bombs buses and reinforcements from Minneapolis, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles were on the scene ASAP.

"FEMA and the Red Cross did not show up," Keith says.

So Food Not Bombs was the helping hands of Americans at the Katrina debacle.

Keith McHenry is only 50 years old. He has done more with his time than twenty folks.

May he have fifty more. Imagine what he would do with it.

We need him.

This week he's taking a train to San Francisco to be at the Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair.

He has agreed to let us "Cost of Freedom" folks share his table.

Keith is looking forward to the long train ride.

"I get two days to write," he says.

In two days Keith McHenry will probably write War and Peace II.


— Mike


March 18: Bisbee, Arizona

Location: St. John's Episcopal Church
Address: 19 Sowles Ave.
Time: 7 pm.

March 19: Tucson

Location: Northwest Neighborhood Center

Time: 6pm.

March 20: Las Vegas, Drinking Liberally

Location: Tenaya Creek Restaurant & Brewery
Address: 3101 Tenaya Way
Time: 630 pm.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Lubbock or leave it ...

"I stood in that street before it was paved. I learned shoot or be shot before I could shave, and I did it all for the money and fame. Noble was nothing but feeling no shame and nothing was sacred but stayin' alive."
— Guy Clark, The Last Gunfighter's Ballad
TAOS, NEW MEXICO — Thank God for Rev. Jeremiah Wright, for having the guts to say what needs to be said, huh?

Wow. I was asked about this on a radio show from Tucson last night while I was at a Unitarian Church in Amarillo and I didn't know much about it.

Now I'm in this cyber cafe and got a chance to look at the sermon on Youtube. Amazing. It's that sort of stuff we should hear all the time, before we invaded Iraq, after 9-11. It's what Americans should hear in church every Sunday.

If that were so, we wouldn't be such a stupid, foul bunch of idiots, who are now pissed as hell at anyone having the audacity to speak the truth.

I was in Austin on Friday, then spent Saturday driving north to Amarillo, through Waco and Fort Worth again, to Lubbock, past the Rocking W and the Fucking A Ranches.

I spoke to a group at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Amarillo Saturday night. The organizer of the event was Mavis Belisle, who has operated The Peace Farm since the 1980s.

A big part of what Peace Farm does is to protest at the Pantex Plant outside Amarillo. For years that is one of the places where our nuclear weapons were manufactured, now they are doing both, making and tearing apart.

Back in the '80s it was Amarillo Bishop Leroy Matthiessen who called on workers at the plant to resign because their work is immoral. At about the same time Bishop Raymond Hunthausen of Seattle urged Catholics to refuse to pay part of their income tax to protest the Trident nuclear
submarine based there.

Mavis calls him "Bishop Matt." She said it was hard for him to do what he did in a place like Amarillo. I ask her if it is hard for her, too, to live in west Texas and be against one of the area's largest employers.

She is small, quiet, with long, white hair. Her eyes glisten and she looks up and says, yes.

After my talk I was interviewed by a reporter from Amarillo Channel 7.

Tough interview, mostly about how come I don't support the troops, aren't I grateful to them for my freedom?

No. I don't support the troops. You cannot support killing. They are not making us free and never did. Don't bomb Hiroshima for me, okay? Don't bomb Vietnam for me, don't bomb Iraq.

The troops in Iraq are dupes for George W. Bush. They are enforcers for the empire.

It is the protesters who are really working to keep us free.

Dude, you should know that.

Hey, lots of adobe and pueblos and shit around here. Mucho trendy.

I am now going for a walk to soak up the funk.

Tonight I will talk at the Taos Peace House, then over, down to El Paso
and points west.


— Mike


March 18: Bisbee, Arizona

Location: St. John's Episcopal Church
Address: 19 Sowles Ave.
Time: 7 pm.

March 19: Tucson

Location: Northwest Neighborhood Center

Time: 6pm.

March 20: Las Vegas, Drinking Liberally

Location: Tenaya Creek Restaurant & Brewery
Address: 3101 Tenaya Way
Time: 630 pm.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Against the Wall Redneck Mother

"He was born in Oklahoma. His wife's name is ol' Betty Lou Thelma Liz. He's not responsible for what he's doing. His mother made him what he is." — Gary P. Nunn, Up
The folks in Tulsa are there for us, every day, thank God ...

DALLAS-FORT WORTH — "Fuck the FCC. Fuck the FBI. Fuck the CIA. I'm livin' in the mother-fuckin' USA."

Wouldn't you feel more like standing if that Steve Earl song were the National Anthem?

And it's not anti-patriotic. It's very patriotic, more in line with the Founding Fathers than what we have going on today.

What we have now in America, in terms of say Christianity and government are anything but what their founders intended.

Luckily, things are not totally out of control. We don't have anarchy in the streets.

There is help out there. Some folks working to maintain the moral order.

Not along the lines of Dr. Phil.

More so along North Greenwood Avenue in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

... "Is this the bible belt?"

"The buckle."

That's me asking another dumb question, this time at the Tulsa Peace House.

Joni and Timbre Wolf respond together politely.

Yesterday I drove from St. Joseph, Missouri to Tulsa, Oklahoma to speak.

This afternoon I am sitting in a hotel in Fort Worth, watching college basketball on the television. I spent the morning on the back roads.

It was warm on Tuesday when I was in Oklahoma, about sixty-two degrees.

It was one-below, the morning before in Iowa.

I thought I had never been to Oklahoma, but I do remember something now about a few days in the 1980s spent at El Reno Federal Prison. I think it was during the time of riots at the state prison at McAlester. I remember being glad about the rioting, somebody fighting back. It's
easy to hate when you are inside a prison bus wearing handcuffs and shackles.

Sometimes I think I hate America to this very day.

I see what we do and don't do.

But on a long drive like this I realize I don't hate as much as maybe I thought I did.

Last year on the tour I took the Interstate, whizzing, fighting traffic — and it kind of gets to you — by the end of the trip I was ready to fight if somebody in front of me didn't react to the green light like a

Formula I drag racer.

This time, when I can, I think I'll take the blue highways, as William Least Heat Moon called them.

And so I got to drive through Coffeyville, Kansas. And I have now seen my first armadillo, albeit deader than shit.

I have been to Bowlegs, Oklahoma now, and seen some of the Sac and Fox, Cherokee and Seminole people, land, casinos — whatever was close to the road. I also passed by Prague, Oklahoma and the Czech Car Wash. I thought for a moment about stopping and saying hello to "my people."

And I have now driven past the sign for Osawatamie, Kansas, where John Brown took the slavery issue into his own hands, or rather at Pottawatomie Creek. Some say he started the Civil War, some say he was a hero, some say he was the first American terrorist.

"Now they're draggin' me back with my head in a sack to the land of the infidel."
— Steve Earle, John Walker's Blues

And there was the sign outside the Highway Baptist Church, near Seminole.

"Will The Road You Are On Get You To God?"

That's a good question. I was driving and did not have a chance to really read the map, so I really don't know. Have you seen the film "Zeitgeist?"

Along the way to Tulsa I saw the tops of all the trees bent and broken, for miles and miles. I thought it was a tornado, a big-ass tornado, but I guess it was The Ice Storm of December 2007.

You know, I have done a few of these book tour "events" with last year's eastern swing, but this was the first one this year, and it's hard to get going again. It's just weird to see signs set up with your name and to have people take time from their day to come listen to you.

At home there are no signs that say "Welcome Mike Palecek, Author & Activist."

But I start in, get back to work, start shaking hands and meeting the people. They are mostly old friends and they welcome me into their circle, tell me about their lives, past and present.

And I remember why I am there. It is for them. Not for me.

That's true, and that's the way it should be, although in the end I get more out of it than they do.

I got to meet "B" and Huti and Jean and Joni and Timbrewolf and Brian and Gary and others. I hear them discuss intently their campaigns against high school military recruitment and depleted uranium and global warming.

Timbrewolf is a big man with long, graying hair. He was a music composition major at the University of Oklahoma years ago and used to be in a band called "The People's Glorious Five-Year Plan."

Huti is part Cherokee, and was in the Navy, and also worked in electronics in Silicon Valley, where he once worked on a project to provide "offensive weapons" for the Saudi government. "They said it was defensive, but we knew it wasn't."

Jean and Huti live in Muskogee. Jean has her white car plastered in bumper stickers, putting mine to shame. She is a registered nurse and often stands on street corners dressed in a polar bear costume to draw attention to global warming. She has been interviewed on National Public Radio, All Things Considered within her polar bear capacity.

Joni got arrested at a few local protests, along with Huti and Jean, during visits by Cheney and Bush. Joni fought her conviction and was found not guilty by the necessity defense. That's a big deal.

We went out to eat at a China buffet afterwards. The talk was about politics, about Obama and Hillary, locals like Senator James Inhofe, whom these folks despise, and his challenger, whom they love. They refer to Kucinich as "Dennis." Joni is the organizer for the local Green Party and talks about a recent visit from Green Party Presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney. As always, I know waaay less about the issues than my hosts. It's ... well ... disapointing to always-always be the stupid honored guest, but I am growing used to it.

Afterwards we take a drive around town. Tulsa is much bigger than I thought.

We stop at the praying hands at the entrance to Oral Roberts University — two gigantic paws in sculpture. We stop and everyone looks up, straining to take it all in out the window.

Huti wonders out loud how much money it would take to open up the hands.

For those of you who have negative thoughts about the Bible Belt, about the state of our nation, of Christianity, about what passes for theological discourse in this country at this time, take heart.

You can rejoice in knowing that there is a strong, small group of people in Tulsa who also do not buy the bullshit, the propaganda.

They get it.

They are there, on the ground, fighting every day for this country.

They are the ones we owe our freedom to. That is what I believe. That is what the book "Cost of Freedom" is all about.

That is what this tour is all about.


— Mike

p.s. I have been to Texas before.

I did not forget La Tuna.

"That's right, you're not from Texas, you're not from Texas. Texas
wants you anyway."
— Lyle Lovett, "That's Right"

And tomorrow before I meet with the Fort Worth 9/11 Truth group at Crystal's Pizza in Irving, I'm going to Dealey Plaza, the Crystal Cathedral for those of us who think that was the day we lost our country and our future.



— March 13 - Fort Worth

Location: Irving, Crystal's Pizza

Address: 930 W. Airport Fwy, Irving/(972) 579-0441

Time: 6 pm.

— March 14: Austin, Brave New Bookstore

Location: Brave New Books

Address: 1904 Guadalupe, Ste. B, downstairs/512.480.2503

Time: 7 pm

— March 15: Amarillo, Peace Farm

Location: Unitarian Universalist Church Fellowship Hall
4901 Cornell

Time: 6 pm

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

"Cost of Freedom" book tour hits the road

[Mike's notes from the road -- posted by Whitney.]

Super 8 Motel, St. Joseph, Missouri -- "What can I do for ya sweetie?"

That's the front desk person. Then she gives me the military discount just because, and brags to me about her little grandson in her arms.

That's nice for ya.

Hey, you would not believe the massive number of geese, snows, Canadians, I saw flocking together at dusk along I-29, in the fields, very cool. Lots of hawks, too, and a dead coyote. I also saw two big dogs by the side of the road, in the ditch, sitting next to what must have been an old buddy. It looked like a big spaniel of some sort, on its back, its legs frozen in the air.

Okay, Mr. Nature has to go now.

Hey, leave it to me, huh?

I had everything packed and planned, been thinking about how to do this thing for hundreds of freezing days and nights this winter.

I stopped at the 13th Street Cafe in Omaha to meet with a guy who is doing the art work for an upcoming book, get back to my car and it's locked and my key doesn't work. It works for the ignition, but not for the doors.

I knew that.

I never lock the car at home, now I get in the city and I get all like I got to lock the doors and well after thousands of days of planning I'm standing outside my car with my keys in my hand.

Anyway, I had to walk all the effing way across town carrying this heavy mo-fo bag with books and computer and special book tour stuff, to Kevin and Laura's place up on Lafayette, near the Cathedral, sweating, shoulders aching, all that I'll tell you about it when you've got more time.

I waited on their back porch for somebody to get home while the mastiff-rottweiller-pit bull-rhinoceros over in the neighbor's yard kept me firmly planted in place.

Kevin got back from his workout at the "Y" and gave me a ride back down to the Old Market and took a wire hanger to let me back into my car.

There ya go.


We went back into the 13th Street to have coffee.

A long time ago our families lived together in Omaha. We called it a resistance community, Greenfields, named after the irish anti-war song The Greenfields of France.

We went to jail, federal prison, things like that.

One million FBI agents stormed the front porch one day to take Kevin to prison. I think that time he served one year in the federal prison in downtown Chicago, for trespassing at Offutt Air Force Base, stepping over a line, a misdemeanor.

For the past twenty years Kevin has been running the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker soup kitchen on the outskirts of the downtown Omaha area. Every morning he gets up at four-thirty or five to take the pickup down to make soup for a several dozen homeless men.

Kevin's a tough guy. He's an Irishman from a farm in northeast Nebraska. He worked on a fishing boat in the waters off Maine. He did a lot of construction work as well, after seminary, after Creighton law school.

During the 1980s he spent time in the Omaha and Council Bluffs county jails for civil disobedience, as well as the federal prisons at Chicago, Leavenworth, Kansas, and El Reno, Oklahoma.

And now he basically lives with the poor, every day.

Laura Loughran and Kevin McGuire have been friends of mine for a long time. I was Kevin's worst man.

"To long lives and short sentences." That was my toast at the after party.

I met them when I came to Omaha in the '80s in search of a way to "live out the gospels" is how I would put it.

They have raised three children since then, all phenomenal students and musicians. I heard today that Clare, the oldest, will graduate this spring from the University of Michigan. I remember when she was toddling around the living room with all the oldsters sitting around
planning the revolution.

It was tough as hell there for a while, living in community, fighting the government, the Omaha World-Herald, the Omaha Catholic Church, trying to keep families together, trying to keep body and soul together, in and out of jail, and all the fear and struggle and pain that goes with that. Shee-it.

And eventually we went separate ways.

Kevin and Laura didn't go that far though. They still live in North Omaha. They still work with the poor, live among the poor, every day.

That is what a Christian does.

I'm just sure of it.

I realized it as I was watching Kevin over the top of my mocha-docha-latte, listening to him catch me up on the last year or so, that's what I was seeing, someone who has fought the good fight, over the long haul.

That is just what we planned to do all those years ago.

Kevin. Dude, you did it.

Proud to know ya.

Okay, if tomorrow is Tuesday, I'll be in Tulsa.


-- Mike