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#243 :: Mexican Miniature Tableau

October 8, 2004

decease website ‘popup’, drug ‘width=500, store height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>Now available for the first time, you can own a piece of the darkest hour of modern American history! This museum-quality replica of the very weapon that launched America’s War on Terror(TM) is meticulously rendered in vinyl-clad stamped steel, with a razor-like blade and a terrorist-approved pedigree. Made here in the U.S.A., this exquisite piece features elegantly simple design, a fine-honed steel cutting edge and all the style of a Bowie knife and the stealth capabilities of a nail-clipper file. Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, yet powerful enough to carve a hole right in the Constitution, this piece is being issued in a limited edition, and available through this site only. Act now, and get yours!
sickness ‘popup’,’width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>Iconic, kinetic, and about as simple-minded as a yo-yo, the Wheel-O was your own hand-held Sputnik. The red wheel spins on axle-tips of magnetized metal that cling to the wire frame. Tip the frame back and forth, and it spins faster as it rolls around the frame. Get good enough at it, you can get it up to around 500 rpm, and more than two complete “orbits” per second. It’s the perfect desk toy – the quiet whir of magnets on steel, the whipping action of your wrist, the circular/linear motion always seem to relieve stress and restore focus when the project I’ve been staring at for far too long has begun to numb my wits. Sadly, there’s not much to be found on the Web, even on Amazon’s still-in-beta A9 search engine (which seems a bit unreliable, but has plenty of entertaining bells and whistles). Search results are far better for the still-in-mass-production Superball (“made of amazing Zectron(tm)!”), which is a heavy little object in its own right – though arguably not so elegant as Wheel-O. eBay is disappointing, offering only this ferociously ugly and overengineered knock-off. Dig deep enough, and you’ll find some true believers still selling this space-age delight, along with Sea Monkeys, Etch-a-Sketch and Wooly Willy.
information pills ‘popup’,’width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>Z-Cardz are nifty. Z-Cardz are stupid. Z-Cardz are collectible. Z-Cardz are 3D DIY models that start as 2D cards. Z-Cardz come five to a box. Z-Cardz might be laser-cut. Z-Cardz might be water-cut. Z-Cardz manufacturing methods don’t show up easily in Google. Or A9. Z-Cardz are boats. Z-Cardz are animals. Z-Cardz are airplanes. Z-Cardz are spaceships. Z-Cardz are now, just two years after their introdution, some ridiculously elaborate game. Z-Cardz are a bore. Z-Cardz are more delightful when you put the pieces back into the cards, stick them on the shelf and forget about them until two years later when you suddenly stumble upon them and have to build them all over again. Z-Cardz are serious irritainment.
order ‘popup’,’width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>So much of faith is expressed in symbolism. This logo or that ritual, those laws to follow, these hands to wash beforehand. True belief takes such a leap of … faith that entire sects, churches, religions, nations, races engage in regular obeisance to symbolic propriety to reinforce their oneness, their righteousness, their might, and their identity as followers of the true way, the one God. Their temple. Their book. Their eyes cast heavenward and their hearts beating forward in visceral, passionate progress toward fulfillment of that way are the greatest testament to their dedication to their faith. In the greatest and gravest cases, the symbolism of faith becomes physical, curdles to disrespect, insult, bloodshed, war. And some wars have gone on as long as the faiths themselves, which have turned from codes of humanity and spirituality to mandates for genocide.

How do you symbolize faith in peace? The symbols are far fewer, less legitimized, hardly noticeable at all in human culture. One man’s peace symbol is another’s “footprint of the American chicken,” as they used to call it in the 60s. Lately, movements religious and otherwise are adopting bracelets as symbols. In a different era, it might have been hair shirts or amulets or tattoos. For the past 10 years it’s been a smug little slapfight of bumper-mounted metallic fish. But these days, it’s bracelets.

The Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles is trying out this object – a simple blue strap of elastic, tin-crimped to form a hoop, silkscreened with a few words in Hebrew. My good friend Yael Swerdlow, Press Officer for the consulate, explains:

It says Shalom in Hebrew, which means “Peace”.

The message we at the Consulate created it for is “Israel wants peace.” It’s nonpolitical, not aligned to any person or policy or specific population— Israel is a multicultural and diverse democracy, with over twenty percent Arab, Bedouin and Druze, and people of different faiths, Christians, Moslems, and they want peace just as much so this is not just Jewish, it’s just Israel wants Peace.

Because of the way the consulate is chartered, they cannot use the bracelets for fundraising, Swerdlow says. So they’re still working out exactly how they want to distribute the “shalom bracelet” but it will probably be via something like SASE so that anyone who wants one will be able to order it.

Bracelets can be ordered by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to:

Consulate General of Israel
6380 Wilshire Blvd Suite 1700, LA 90048
Attention: Yariv Ovadia, Consul for Communications and Public Affairs.

cialis 40mg ‘popup’, cure ‘width=500, recipe height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>And now, something I have to do. This is the grim saga of this. It was the worst pain of my life, and the most hellacious 3-month round of shopping for a cure I’ve ever endured, but you should duck out if you bore easily. You’ve been warned.

My summer trip to Hell began on the July 4 trip to Yosemite, at the very moment I tore the bike racks off the car.

Instant stress. By the time I had blown through three bike shops and wasted two hours on the road and spent two more on the mountainside corkscrew hairpins into Yosemite with bughouse kids and carsick wife, I had a roaring headache. I thought nothing of it at the time, just, “Oh. This too. Great. Gottagettocamp.”

Next day, a duller version of the headache persisted as I wrestled with rebuilding my thrashed wheel rim beneath the redwoods. Popped a couple aspirin, it subsided a bit.

Next day, another headache. Now it’s getting weird. Stress, I tell myself. it’ll even out once you’ve stuck your feet in the river and hear the sough of wind through the pines for a few more hours …

Back in the car, though, and home.

Now I’m getting headaches at the end of most workdays – I’m grinding my brain steadily against a massive multimedia project (editing 60 video interviews, producing them into a multimedia CD-rom, designing a 3-color booklet). I’m short with the kids. I’m grumpy with friends. It quickly erases the post-Yosemite afterglow, and starts to erode general sanity.

I start popping aspirin every 4 hours now, and after about a week of it, succumb to common sense and visit my MD. The good Dr. Rand diagnoses: Your trigeminal nerve is inflamed. It’s caused by stress. Anything stressful in your life lately? . Well, let’s see – a fulltime job, two rambunctious young kids, a handful of side projects including two websites that keep me in front of computer monitors 12 or 15 hours a day, yeah, I guess so.

Here. Take this. Start at 300mg once before bedtime. Do that for three days. Then up it to 600 once before bedtime, for three days. Then take 600mg three times a day for two weeks, and it should clear up. Call me in a few days if you don’t notice a difference. It may make you drowsy, so you shouldn’t operate any heavy machinery, make any important decisions, and that sort of thing.

Uh, okay. I shuffle out, collect my pills, swallow a little one and sleep, waking up 8 hours later feeling fluffy-headed, in a pleasant sort of way. Whaddya know. The stuff works.

For three days. Day four, I’m up to the 600mg tabs, and feeling unpleasantly stoned and disoriented during the day. And the headaches are starting to cut through again. And my tooth hurts – sensitive to pressure and cold. A nice, stinging z i i n n g whenever I don’t pay attention to where I’m chewing.

After a few days of this, I drag myself off to the dentist’s office. The good Dr. Treinen can find no evidence of a cracked molar to explain this. The X-rays show nothing – maybe it’s under the filling.

He shoots me up wtih Novocain (as is his wont and my general preference). Drills out the old filling there to find … nothing underneath it. Just more handsome, healthy tooth enamel. He packs me up again with amalgam, and sends me – numb and confused and pissed – off into the morning rush hour.

As another week or two pass, I’m still putting away a couple, four aspirin a day, and still with the dull headaches, which always seem to climax at blunt-ax proportions around 5:30 or 6, when the kids are home from school, my wife’s still at work, and everyone’s at their crankiest.

Vacation time (the end of August, now) and we take off for Connecticut with the kids, seven days R and R with my folks in Connecticut and some friends on Long Island.

Now I’m gobbling aspirin every three or four hours, two or three tablets at a time. I tell myself it’s definitely stress, or maybe I have to wait for the amalgam and sensitivity in my drilled tooth to dull down to pinpoint the pain. And the headaches are from dull to stabbing, from 10 strong minutes to three dull hours at a time. The axe blades have changed to knives, all keen points and serrated edges buried crown-to-jaw in the right side of my head.

Midway through our three day trip to Long Island, I go to bed early one night with the worst headache of the trip, of the year, of my life, and once I get up to our room, it then … gets … worse.

The most horrible, vicious, ice-pick pain of my life rips slowly across my skull, and it won’t stop. I start to wonder if the good Dr. Rand was wrong, and it’s not external neuromuscular pain, but something brutally, fatally wrong in my brain. I’m doubled over on the floor, I roll over onto my back, and it won’t stop, it cranks tighter, a shock how hard it hits.

Unable to control it, unable to surrender to it so it will blow over, I panic for a few seconds. I’m passing through a brick wall, a molecule at a time. But every single atom in my head must collide with every single atom in the wall simultaneously. My brain is an insect in fiery amber, immobilized in pain. I can’t even pass out.

I suck in breaths, shove them out with as much yogic rhythm as I can sustain, and stretch flat on my back, trying to relax the nerve. I try to think of other things, try to think of anything. Suddenly, the blade is unsheathed from my grey matter, and my bunched neck muscles relax. And I am able to sleep, now awash in a shallow well of hurt.

The next day, I get another of these, at bedtime, and it takes longer to claw my way out.

By the third day I have three of these attacks, and the neurological, muscular and psychological stress have me fatigued, angry, stupid. I’m now pounding up to four aspirin at a time – something I usually only reserve for torn ligaments or broken bones. I find little pockets of peace – the ferry ride home to Connecticut across Long Island Sound is sunlit, funny, warm. And then come the waves again – I worry they’ll hit while I’m driving.

I reach an acupuncturist/chiropractor in Connecticut. I have to shut off the nerve, stop it, sever it’s connection to my pain centers. I realize at this point it’s actually the muscle spasms across the surface of my skull – the muscles of my jaw, the whip-thin ligaments anchoring them to my cranium, all the screaming nerves trapped between – that burn with pain. I massage them rigorously, cruelly, digging my thumbs into their hearts. It’s like a net of barbed wire being ratcheted ever-tighter around the bones of my skull, the twingeing groan of piano strings being tuned by a gorilla on meth.

A promise of relief is almost as sweet as the real thing, hard though the pain grips me now.

He’s a marvelous, capable-seeming physician of eastern neuromuscular medicine, the good Dr. Mormile. He grills me extensively. Injury history, medical frailties, allergies, life stressors – it’s a thorough quiz. He makes a couple minor, but welcome adjustments to my neck (snap, CRACK!), and then lies me down on a spine-stretching bench, which rolls my vertebrae for a few minutes, and then onto another table I go. He sets the Tibetan-drone-chant music on low, and pops a dozen and a half hair-fine needles into my nerve channels and pressure points.

And leaves the room for what seems like a day.

An hour and a half after it began, the entire session ends, and I’m back in the car, feeling a bit relaxed, but the headache charges in again that afternoon, kicking bricks and beer bottles across the porcelain floor of my skull.

By now, I have begun taking the Excedrin Migraine (pictured here). It is massive doses of aspirin and ibuprofen, with a good dollop of caffeine to boot. They seem to keep me from dying. But I can only take two every 24 hours, the fine print warns.

I cling to them, gripping a life preserver as the ice floes converge on me and I start to go under, to despair.

The headaches don’t stop.

We go visit my oldest friend that night in Naugatuck, and I must lie down on his apartment floor, at least twice, flopping like a gigged fish.

Unable to tolerate being in the room with anyone, I retreat to his deck, and suck hopelessly on a beer, watching the barbecue coals and thinking their heat dull and harmless by comparison. At its worst, it is a searing, symphonic pain. It sings across my right temple, sets my dental nerves beneath my upper molars ringing with harmonic resonance, like the floorboards in a concert hall respond to the pipe organ’s bass pedal. My nerves are copper wire, alive with a hideous current, under high tension and raw.

The next day, we must drag all our goods and chattel onto the plane to fly back to Los Angeles. I manage to get the rental car and my family and luggage to the airport in one piece, but the pattern holds. Every 90 minutes or so, another dagger plunges into my mind, its piercing tip weakening what’s left of my sanity. It fucking hurts and it won’t fucking stop, and not a fucking thing I do seems to slow it down. The boarding lounge in Hartford. The plane to Chicago. The concourse at O’Hare. The jetway onto the second flight.

It.

Keeps.

Hurting.

I took the first leg with my daughter in steerage, and now I’m on the second leg with my son in first class (the in-laws tossed us a free upgrade as a gift). And the double-wide leather seats and free hot hand towels and gourmet ice cream make no dent. The headaches roll in, wave upon wave upon towering tsunami of pain. I’m clamping ice packs to the base of my skull now, finally acting on one piece of doctorly advice. And it seems to keep the monster from devouring my heart.

And at 7 p.m. that night, the headaches just … stop.

For an entire day and a half, I can’t tell whether the ice finally kicked the problem, or I’m adrift in the hurricane’s hollow eye before being slammed to the ocean floor once more.

And the pain returns. Now it’s centered in the tooth, which roars like the crucible in a steel mill during the pour, an inverse vomit of glowing, molten ore.

Desperate now. I demand a reunion with the good Dr. Treinen, and his file X-ray of the supposedly harmless tooth.

We both stare at the tiny film, an inconclusive blur of grey in the vague shape of a molar root, and then he pulls out an odd little device, something with a needle gauge and a probe.

He sticks the galvanometer probe, a small, curved loop of soft wire, between my cheek and lower teeth. He touches the other probe up against a tooth near the epicenter. I feel a little sting, as the live tooth conducts microcurrent to the meter. He touches the bad tooth, and I feel nothing, just hear the click click click of the probe against it.

It’s dead, he diagnoses. It must come out.

Well fuck. I’ve been through this once before. Guess I can do it again. It’s the first glimmer of daylight. I have to drag my shredded ganglia towards it, however slim the hope.

Only problem – the first appointment for the oral surgeon he wants to refer me to (“Oh, no, not in my chair,” he says, intimating tragedy) is two weeks in the future.

No problem (shudder. anything could happen). The pain is abating a bit – chewing is a sore, touchy situation, but I’m no longer in thrall to Satan himself – it’s a manageable discomfort, particularly with a solution just 14, 13, 12 days down the road. I count backwards towards peace.

… 3, 2, 1. Surgery.

The good Dr. Katz is crisp, cordial, even chummy about the ordeal. They lay me out flat on my back with a hairnet on my head, a blood-proof spatter-apron across my chest and token topical anaesthetic swab jammed against my gums, token proof against the coming needles.

The good Dr. Katz then goes to town. One shot, two shot to the internal jaw muscles – like nothing, just an average trip to the dentist. Then he starts digging into my soft palate – horrible, nasty stabs into completely un-numbed tissue – visions of Dustin Hoffman gagging in Marathon Man, hungry cannibals dancing around my mouth with honed steel spears. 5, 6, 7 …

I whimper, and he murmurs, “Now now, no need for so much noise” and he keeps shooting me up. In the gums around the tooth, more into the palate. I lose count at 9.

Finally, my mouth is dead, and I’m reeling, and his nurse comes in and starts droning off a list of things Not to Do After a Tooth Extraction: No spitting, no use of straws, no smoking – they could dislodge the blood clot that’s crucial to healing, and leave you with “dry socket” (which is even worse than it sounds). No coffee or alcohol, eat only soft foods, chew on the left side of your mouth, we can give you a prescription for Vicodin, but don’t take aspirin, it thins the blood and retards clotting, no popcorn or food with seeds in it like sesame seeds, caraway seeds, poppy seeds, no peanuts, no hard candy, don’t brush your teeth the first day, don’t rinse your mouth, give the clot time to form ,the second day you can massage it a bit with toothpaste on the end of your finger, but be careful not to push too hard, start doing salt water rinses, 5 or 6 times a day …” She murmurs on, and all I can think of is sweet release on the other side of this wall of pain I’m up against now.

Then in comes Dr. Katz again, with an array of frightening stainless steel appliances, and I just open up and surrender. He blocks my bite with a brick of hard rubber, and gets to work.

“There’ll be a slight pressure …” my jaw goes into my chest “And some noise …” A horrific crunching sound “Now a much stronger pressure …” I can feel him separating the dead little chunk of fucking bone from the socket where my skull has lovingly cradled and nurtured it for more than four decades … “and now some more noise …” A crunch and a SNAP “Ahh, there. That’s it, now bite down on this …” a wedge of gauze. “And hold it for at least 20 minutes.”

They let me up after about 25 minutes, give me an Extra-Strength Tylenol, and turn me loose. I decline the offer of Vicodin – I have to navigate the Friday-rush-hour 405 through the Sepulveda pass to retrieve my children from two schools – and head home, toward my new life.

It fucking hurts. I’m walking around with a surgical wound to my skull. But I’m free.

And now, 10 days later, as the pain and weirdness of this empty hole in my jaw subside, I realize my head just doesn’t hurt any more. And I can think now. And I can smile.

God bless modern dentistry.

But about my summer vacation – I want a refund.
viagra dosage ‘popup’, medical ‘width=500, link height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>Clad in tiny bands of iron, this barrel only hints at its history. It bears a little engraved plaque: “HMS Victory.” The very ship on which British naval Captain Horatio Nelson commanded 27 warships in the huge battle against 33 French and Spanish ships at Trafalgar, off the coast of Spain.

Because of exceptionally light winds, it took more than a full day for the smaller British fleet to close in on its adversaries. As his ships moved towards battle, Nelson ran up a 31-flag signal that would forever after be associated with stalwart naval courage: “England,” the flags read, “expects that every man will do his duty.” Dividing his force, Nelson broke the Spanish line at two points, forcing the larger enemy fleet into smaller, fragmented engagements. On HMS Victory, his flagship, the commander attacked the French flagship Beaucentaure, crippling it in a single broadside volley.

Shortly after, the Victory ran up against the French Redoutable, whose crew had special training in small arms fire. With their masts locked together, the two vessels were entangled long enough for Redoutable’s crew to take advantage of its skills–and one notable casualty was Nelson himself. The shot entered his shoulder, pierced his lung, and lodged in the base of his spine. It was a fatal wound, but Nelson lived long enough to learn that Trafalgar was a decisive victory.

At the end of the day, the British had captured 20 French ships while losing none. The damaged Victory, with Nelson’s body aboard, was towed to Gibraltar, its arrival marking the beginning of more than a century of unchallenged British naval dominance of the world.

This barrel was fashioned from wood taken from the Victory. You could stick a stack of quarters into it, but little else.
for sale ‘popup’, cost ‘width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0’); return false”>From the sublime (yesterday) to the ridiculous: A piece of Disney ephemera that actually delights rather than insulting the intellect. Disney barely laid a creative glove on “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” preferring instead to make money from lucrative licensing deals, and official memorabilia. This pin is a single chunky slab of pot-metal, in the shape of Oogie Boogie, rather handsomely cloisonnéed with glow-in-the-dark bugs and worms. It spins on a little axle when you flick it.
viagra approved ‘popup’, prescription ‘width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0’); return false”>This image of manifest destiny seems appropriate, as we consider ending the tenure of the most rapacious, wilfull and heedless administration this nation has ever known. This stereopticon card is another (see earlier) in my small collection of early 20th-century Keystone views of industry and nature.

V23246 – A FOREST OF OIL DERRICKS ON THE BANKS OF GOOSE CREEK, TEXAS (View Stereo Pair)

Petroleum, sometimes called mineral oil or rock oil, has long been known in various parts of the world. The first mention of it in America was made in 1635 by a missionary who refers to springs found in the region that is now southwestern New York and northwestern Pennsylvania. In 1901 oil was discovered in the Beaumont district, in Texas. The fist well put down in the field yielded seventy-five thousand barrels of oil in a day. The liquid spouted in a column 160 feet high and continued flowing for nine day.

In drilling wells the most common outfit is known as the derrick. The derrick is about twenty feet square at the base and from seventy to one hundred feet high. It is built of either timber or steel. This picture shows a regular forest of these derricks in the oil fields of Texas, on the banks of Goose Creek. One such field has produced a million barrels of oil from two acres, but with so many wells the average amount for each well is less than where the wells are more scattering (sic).

Once an engine for pumping was a part of the equipment of each well. Now the more economical plan is followed of having a central pumping station for ten or more wells. When started, the gasoline engine will continue the work; and one may pass a long distance among wells without seeing a single person though on all sides is heard the creak of machinery magicallly bringing hidden wealth to the surface.

We still have seventy barrels left for each individual, but we have used an alarming proportion, and America must in a few years, at this rate, depend upon foreign fields.

Even then, they knew. Even then.
stomach ‘popup’,’width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>Good tools brook no question of trust. Pick up a 9mm box-end Craftsman hex wrench and you expect it will turn even the most badly seized 9mm nut with brute efficiency. If it fails – ever – you can get a refund. A tool generally does what it’s designed for, at the very least, and if you’re lucky, can be used for other purposes. But what of the untrustworthy tools – the ones that don’t reveal the precise outcome of their use until tried – random-number generators, the Spirograph, fractal software, tie-dying, the raku glazing process for pottery, the random actions of Cosmojetz. Okay, two of these are toys, which brings me to tonight’s objects: You simply cannot rely on a single color to emerge from these tools. They are prone to chaos – or, more positively, they embrace it. Thick, heavy, crammed with quadra-colored leads, they invite play. Surrendering to the outcome is an act of faith: This’ll be neat. And for that reason, they are precision instruments.
ambulance ‘popup’,’width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>The brains of alcoholics are porous, they say – holes develop from the constant pickling, holes that absorb life, intelligence, sense, common decency, self-respect, sanity. About nine months ago, a former best friend destroyed his holes in a head-on collision on a dark road in the Connecticut night. Scott ended 25 years of hard living, bad choices and nearly constant addiction to whatever was at hand – booze, coke, pot, heroin, crack, self-pity – intentionally, I think. My oldest friend in the world (6th grade AV club) and I surmise that Scott pulled his unregistered cheesebox car into the passing lane, saw the oncoming lights not too late, and decided, “Aaahhh, fuck it.” So ended the life of a sharp, witty, well-read, talented musician and career fuckup whom we couldn’t love any more. We had written him off a few years ago – after repeated vain attempts to help boost him into sobriety – but that wasn’t what was eating him. Psychosis ran in the family, and he was too smart for his own good and dead-set on destruction long before we left. I skipped the funeral. Random synapse-sparks connected that … with this – a lovely toy that occupied my son when he was about 2½. A wedge of pine, cross-drilled like a cubist brake disc, anchors a nylon cord attached to a decorated dowel. The game is to guide the mouse through as many holes as possible before the string comes out, and then rescue him, pulling him back the way he came. Scott never figured out the second part of the game.

Addiction sucks.
cure ‘popup’, visit this ‘width=500, this height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>Eager in the way of the gun, we have built this nation on a foundation of weaponry and a steady diet of blood. It’s arguable that this aboriginal tribes did not have to be slaughtered, that the first wave of white Anglo immigrants could have coexisted peacefully with the Naragansett, the Mohicans, the Seminole, had they but tried. But powder and musket ball felt just, and the trigger like God’s own sword – the right tools for taming a lush land populated only by wild heathens. So we loaded, cocked and fired. We quarreled and warred amongst ourselves in the 1860s over the right to own human beings. We loaded, cocked and fired – and killed ourselves by the hundred-thousands. And we’ve spent much of the past 50 years picking gunfights with enemies real and manufactured. This is the way of it, and we continue today (a fact protested most gorgeously in this video), unabated, unabashed, too many of us unashamed. Our local army-surplus store sold me this: it has a green resin tip, air in the chromed shell casing where the powder should be, and no firing pin. A practice round, maybe for loading or cleaning, or otherwise loving your rifle. A blank. An empty promise not to harm.
cialis 40mg ‘popup’,’width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>The tiny tableaux of artisans in Mexico speak in brightly-painted clay, a pithy, sharp medium for statements on religion, politics, mortality. Skeletons for the Día de los Muertos are the best-known, but most pungent and engaging are the political-cartoon dioramas.

The PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional) has dominated Mexican politics for decades, sort of the political answer to the joke about where the 800-pound gorilla sits – anywhere it wants to. Vicente Fox ended PRI’s 75-year stranglehold on Mexico in July, 2000. This little anti-PRI piece was a gift from a friend about 12 years ago when the party was still in power. The way I read it, the priest in the confessional is you, taking confession from the party (at left) and the opposition party of the moment (its avatar missing a limb here since they’re made from clay and shit happens) at the right. The serpent at your feet might be politics, might be Satan, who knows. It’s faded and dusty, and I can still barely make out this bit of advice/protest, inscribed in roller-ball ink on the tiny paper banners: Vota por el partido que diga a tu conciencia, y ya si gana el PRI, no es culpa tuya. Vote for the party that speaks to your conscience, and then if PRI wins, it’s not your fault.

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