This joke comes from the Old Roue in Bangkok


Friendship Between Women: A woman didn’t come home one night. The next day she told her husband that she had slept over at a friend’s house.The man called his wife’s 10 best friends. None of them knew about anything about it.

Friendship Between Men: A man didn’t come home one night. The next day he told his wife that he had slept over at a friend’s house. The woman called her husband’s 10 best friends. Eight of them confirmed that he had slept over and two claimed that he was still there.

How true


At one time I thought that the world would consist of long-hairs driving GTOs with skinny blondes at their side. The music on the radio was Grand Funk Railroad. Once I graduated from college my delusion of grandeur narrowed to an aspiration of driving a motorcycle around the Lower East Side high on heroin with a raven-haired temptress. Paris with a movie starlet. Blonde thin and a good cook. Our car was a Fiat. Thailand. A go-go girl. Yamaha 400 cc. Beach sun beer. Forever cool.

Sadly my friends along the way have become square.

They worry about their position. They think they are important. Some of them really are VIP. Some of them could call a number. The next hour I would be dead.

If I was someone other than who I am that might be true.

But I have remained faithful to my code of ethics.

“No commercial value. No sellout.”

Those are the words of James Steele and he knows the truth.

He ain’t no square.

No Tattoos in Heaven

After my best friend drowned in Sebago Lake in 1960, I became a non-believer. Chaney was a good boy and no God would have let him die. My atheism was a secret. I was an altar boy at Sunday Mass. My mother prayed that I might take the cloth as a priest or at the least a brother. The nuns mother at Our Lady Of The Foothills also had high hopes for my avocation, however the Baltimore Cathecism failed teach me religion to resurrect my faith in the Holy Trinity and I bore my godlessness in silence.

My secret was sussed out by 6th grade teacher.

“I know faith when I see it. I know lack of faith too.” Sister Mary Goretti was more tolerant of my puerile apostasy than her whip-bearing compatriots. “But you really shouldn’t be an altar boy.”

“My mother wants me to be one.”

“And she wants more.”

“I know.”

“So if you can’t quit, just lower your head during Mass and say whatever you want, but I don’t want to see you taking the Holy Communion. That would be sacrilege.”

‘Yes, sister.”

I might not have believed in God, but I did believe in Sister Mary Goretti.

She Mary Goretti was as ancient as dust. The old nun had taught school in Egypt. Her tales of children running over stalks of harvested crops without touching the jagged tips was a magic miracle. Her students loved her and she loved educating us.

No question was undeserving of an answer and one day my friend Chuckie asked, “Do atheists go to heaven?”

“I don’t know, but I think they would be surprised to wake from death in the after-life.” Sister Mary Goretti looked in my direction and I shrugged, since going to heaven meant worshiping the man in a dress and hell was a burning oven. I was more interested in purgatory. Nothing bad ever happened in Limbo.

“My mother said if you get a tattoo, then you don’t do to heaven.”

“Leviticus 19:28 says, “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print or tattoo any marks upon you.” She knew her Old Testament. “That’s against the 5th Commandment.”

“I thought that meant ‘Thou shalt not kill.” I got As in religion, despite my godlessness.

“St. Paul admonishes us: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God?” She was no slouch with the New Testament either. “But my father was a sailor and had tattoos. He was a good man and I can’t see him going to hell for an anchor tattoo, but who am I to question the dictates of the Church?”

None of us dared answer this question and we returned to our Baltimore Cathecism lesson.

At year’s end my report card was straight As for the year and Sister Mary Goretti rewarded me with a mother of pearl rosary.

“I know you don’t believe, but that doesn’t make you a bad boy. God loves us all.”

“Thank you, sister.”

She was playing a game, but I was lucky to have her as my teacher and while I don’t believe in either heaven or hell, I have refrained ever getting a tattoo.

Out of respect for an old nun.

And only a little bit the fear of hell.

Ashes To Ashes

“It does not take a majority to prevail… but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”

Samuel Adams

www.infowars.com reported that the Oklahoma Militia was willing to fight in support of Nevada rancher’s grazing rights on federal land. Members of the right-wing militia says it has 50,000 volunteers ready to go, if the
Bureau of Land Management once more attempted to confiscate Cliven Bundy’s cattle. Their leader Scott Shaw said to the website, “Evidently in America we don’t actually own the property anymore if you ever did. A showdown is up to the feds. The ball’s in their court! You can do this legally or if you want to try to do a land grab violently, you can do that. We’re going to resist you! Just look around the country, they are doing it everywhere. If they can do it in Nevada, they can do it in Colorado, Texas. I mean, what’s to stop them from coming to Oklahoma? The only thing to stop them is ‘We the People’.”

Senator James Inhofe was quick to criticize the militia.

You’ve got a bunch of people there trying to take the law into their own hands and they shouldn’t be doing that. And the Bureau of Land Management is not government-owned, it’s publicly owned. There’s a big difference there. I blame both sides.”

Me, I blame everyone involved, but armed insurrection against the USA is never a good idea.

Just ask the South.

The Unmagic of the BBC

Varanasi on the Ganges River is one of the oldest cities in the world and considered by many to be the spiritual center of India. Archaeologists date its origin to over three thousand years ago and Siddhartha formulated the tenets of Buddhism upstream at Sarnath in a sermon entitled ‘Turning the Wheel of Law’ in 528BC. Mark Twain visited the storied city and 1897 and famously said, “Varanasi is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.”

I visited the ghats in 1995.

The fiery funerary rituals offered a spectacle unknown to the West, but occidentals can not accept the beauty of the Orient without seeing fakirs behind the miracles.

Today a BBC reporter wrote that the sunset tradition of sadhus standing on plinths was enchanting, but added that he later learned that the supposed ancient rites were the invention of a hotel owner to spice up the evening on the Ganges.

According to his article he stated that ‘a couple of days later I was sitting in the BBC studio in Delhi with a young Indian journalist who had come in to comment on the election campaign. He heard my report in his headphones.

“You were in Varanasi?” he asked.


“And you recorded something at the ceremony they have on the river bank there.”

“That’s right.”

“In a boat?”

“Yes. It was wonderful.”

“You know the whole thing was invented by the manager of a luxury hotel in Varanasi about 20 years ago. He was trying to drum up the number of tourists coming to town.”

“I see. Right.”

Journalists get lied to so often that they generally end up fairly cynical, or perhaps to put it more kindly, sceptical. And let me say straightaway that I am not accepting the journalist’s account without question.

Even if I went back to Varanasi and investigated the matter I have no doubt that some people would insist the ceremony has been going on for centuries.

That’s the way with these things. But still it was a bit of a shocker. Perhaps you can never quite go far enough in questioning why things are happening – what purpose they really serve.

I emailed my boss.

“About that ceremony,” I said. “You might well have been right.”

I told him what the journalist in the studio had said.

“Ah yes,” he replied. “The invention of tradition. Happens everywhere.”

The article ended there, but not all magic in life has to have an origin.

On my travels throughout Asia in the 90s I carried a worldband radio. At night I would listen to the BBC braodcast from London on the other side of the world. The World Service was a century old tradition for expatriates living abroad and now the Cameron government has been neutering the radio shows.

They will not be able to demystify India or Varanasi.

It is as old as time itself.

Same as radio waves traveling to the stars.